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2020 NFL Playoff Picture


2020 NFL Playoff Picture: The Bracket

Just avoid a losing streak and COVID-19.

This is the up to date 2020 NFL playoff picture, updated weekly between now and the end of the season.

The fact that there is a 2020 NFL season is something to celebrate. Well, I mean, unless you’re a Jets fan. They are probably grumbling that the season should have been cancelled. If it makes you feel any better, you probably have an iron lock on the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Every week, we will update the 2020 NFL playoff picture, but when you see the bracket below, you will notice something different. That’s right: there are now seven playoff teams per conference for a total of 14. Not only that, but to accommodate this change, just one team in the AFC and NFC each will get a first-round bye. The number two seed will play on Wild Card Weekend starting this season. Both conferences will have four division champions and three wild cards.

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 29

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 29

Already In The Playoffs

  • NFC: Green Bay (NFC North champ), New Orleans (NFC South champ), Seattle Seahawks (NFC West champ), Tampa Bay (wild card)
  • AFC: Kansas City (AFC West champ, home field), Buffalo (AFC East champ), Pittsburgh (AFC North champ)

Leading Playoff Spots, But Not Clinched

  • NFC: Washington (NFC East), Los Angeles Rams (wild card), Chicago (wild card)
  • AFC: Tennessee (AFC South), Miami (wild card), Baltimore (wild card), Cleveland (wild card)

Mathematically Alive

  • NFC: Arizona, Dallas, New York Giants
  • AFC: Indianapolis

Eliminated from Playoff Contention

  • NFC: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Carolina, Detroit, San Francisco, Minnesota
  • AFC: Jacksonville, New York Jets, Houston, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles Chargers, New England, Las Vegas

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 15

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 15

Week 15 Clinching Scenarios (Bleacher Report)

4 out of 14 playoff berths clinched so far (GB, KC, NO, PIT)

BUF clinches AFC East:BUF win + MIA loss
BUF clinches playoff berth:BUF win
LAR clinches playoff berth:LAR win
NO clinches NFC South:NO win OR TB loss

AFC Playoff Picture

The Pittsburgh run atop the AFC is no more, now that the Steelers have lost consecutive games while Kansas City keeps winning. Your defending Super Bowl champs clinched a bid two weeks ago and now they are the AFC’s top seed. They have a strong case as a repeat Super Bowl champion, though it is easier said than done.

Meanwhile, don’t look now, but Buffalo has put together a strong resume as well. This is the best Bills team since the Marv Levy days and anything short of a deep postseason run would be a disappointment.

The remaining AFC playoff teams are Tennessee, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Miami. One team that is getting notice again is Baltimore, who may have saved their season with a dramatic win over the Browns on Monday Night Football, though they remain on the wrong side of the cut line.

NFC Playoff Picture

Once again, Green Bay leads the NFC pack, supplanting New Orleans for the top spot. Hey, lose to the hapless Eagles and this is what’s going to happen. Both are strong teams, both are already secured into the field, but they’ll keep doing this dance for the number one seed until Week 17.

Changes are the LA Rams are not going to interfere in the Packers and Saints’ tussle for the top seed. However, they might get into the field for certain in Week 15. We know for sure Washington has no future for anything but the number four seed unless there’s an unseemly wild card collapse these last few weeks.

Seattle seems a sure bet to make the playoffs, with Tampa Bay also much more likely than not. Arizona is a team in some danger, but even though they are just 7-6, a relatively weak NFC is helping them.

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 8

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 8

2 out of 14 playoff berths clinched so far (KC, NO)

AFC Playoff Picture

So, you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would not make it to 16-0. That’s fair. Wait, you expected Washington to beat them? Shut your lying mouth.

Kansas City is now right on their tail and still very much in play for the one seed and the sole bye in the AFC. The Chiefs became the first AFC team to punch their ticket back to the playoffs.

Buffalo jumped back into the number three seed while Tennessee slipped to four. The Titans’ first-round opponent would be Cleveland, a team upon which they’ll either want some revenge, or they will not be looking forward to reliving that experience from Week 13.

Miami and Indianapolis are the last two AFC entries. Every other team is at least one full game behind Indy in the standings.

NFC Playoff Picture

New Orleans, Drew Brees or not, are in the playoffs. Who will join them? Almost certainly Green Bay, though they have yet to clinch. Also expect both Seattle and the LA Rams to get there, with seeding still to be determined.

Someone is going to win the hapless NFC East, and at this point, it figures to be either the NY Giants or Washington. They are the only two teams with forward momentum, each notching genuinely big Week 13 wins.

Tampa Bay feels somewhat safe despite being a six seed, while Minnesota is welcomed to the fray as a 6-6 seven seed. Arizona fell out of the mix, but consider this: if you have 6-6 teams getting into wild cards, and if the Giants and Washington each find a way to something like 8-8, could one of them actually get a wild card? Stay tuned on that one.

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 2

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of December 2

Week 13 Clinching Scenarios (Pro Football Network)

0 of 14 playoff berths clinched so far

NO clinches NFC playoff berth:NO win + MIN loss + CHI loss + SF loss
PIT clinches AFC playoff berth:PIT win
KC clinches AFC playoff berth:KC win + BAL loss + LV loss

AFC Playoff Picture

Pittsburgh are now 11-0 thanks to their Wednesday matinee win, just five games away from matching the 2007 Patriots’ undefeated season. They still have Kansas City on their tails, and it seems a near certainty that the defending champs will be back in the postseason. If all goes well this coming week, both can clinch berths.

It becomes a more fluid picture after the top two. Spots three through seven all changed this week, with Tennessee overtaking Buffalo for the number three seed. Miami is also a new entry back into the field of 14, with Las Vegas dropping out and Baltimore hanging back.

NFC Playoff Picture

New Orleans is still the top team in the conference and is the only NFC team that has a clinching path in Week 13. They will need help to do it, but with a win, they can ice it in Week 14 regardless of what anyone else does.

Seattle, Los Angeles, and Arizona keep bobbing around as three NFC West teams trading seeds. Arizona held firm at seven but the Seahawks and the Rams moved around, with Seattle now in first place.

This is the first time in years we have welcomed the New York Giants into the playoff picture, though at 4-7, they’ll be considered an afterthought.

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of November 24

2020 NFL Playoff Picture November 24

This Week In the NFL Playoff Picture, Pre-Week 12

AFC Playoff Picture

The AFC has been a jumble towards the bottom of the playoff picture, but not at the top: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Buffalo are the steady top three, and even throw in Indianapolis steady as the number four seed. Once you get into the wild card layer, however, it’s all different from last week.

Tennessee is a newcomer to the field, as is Cleveland. Las Vegas remains in the picture but clinging to the seventh seed. This means that Baltimore and Miami have dropped out of the mix after Week 11 disappointments, but they each remain several games ahead of the field. One could realistically say that the AFC is a nine-team hunt for seven spots.

NFC Playoff Picture

As for the NFC, it looks different this week in terms of the arrangement of teams, but it’s all the same teams as one week ago. New Orleans moves up to the one seed and the coveted bye, while Green Bay drops to third. The Rams leap several teams to grab the second seed as they now lead the NFC West. What happens in the NFC East is irrelevant at this point, but Philadelphia (3-6-1) leads it and would get a playoff home game if they capture the division.

Two of the three NFC wild cards again come from the NFC West. Seattle is fifth and loving it, as they get the NFC East winner, while Arizona sits at seventh. In between those two are the Tom-pa Brady Buccaneers at sixth.

Chicago leads the field from the outside looking in at 5-5, a game behind Arizona. Everyone else in the conference is below the .500 mark.

2020 NFL Playoff Picture: As of November 17

2020 NFL Playoff Picture Bracket - 11-17-20

This Week In the NFL Playoff Picture, Pre-Week 11

AFC Playoff Picture

Pittsburgh has the inside track to the best record in the NFL, given that they are the sole undefeated team and over halfway to a perfect season at 9-0.

Thing is, they can’t feel that secure because with Kansas City at 8-1, you could have an AFC team with a busload of wins, maybe 13 or 14, playing on Wild Card Weekend. That’s how high the bar is now with the NFL’s format change.

Buffalo sticks out a little from the remainder of the crowd at a respectable 7-3, aiming to end New England’s 11 years in a row atop the AFC East. The Bills haven’t won the division since 1995. At this rate, we wouldn’t think the Pats are going to make it 12 straight.

After that, you have a cluster of teams at 6-3; six to be exact. There are, however, four bids available for those six teams. Give Indianapolis the AFC South and it’s going to be tough breaking ties among five teams for three spots thereafter. Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Tennessee are the teams vying.

NFC Playoff Picture

The NFC is much more competitive from top to bottom than the AFC. Its bottom teams contend for a division title in the abominable NFC East, led by Philadelphia, while its top teams are thinking Super Bowl LV. Green Bay gets the nod for New Orleans for the number one seed based on their win over the Saints on September 27.

With Tom Brady at the helm, Tampa Bay will contend for the NFC South but may not best the Saints for the division. Either way, a wild card berth appears likely.

At 6-3, there are Arizona, Seattle, and the Los Angeles Rams, meaning if the season ended today, three out of four NFC West teams would make the playoffs. The one that wouldn’t is San Francisco, the defending NFC champion. Go figure.

The first team out of the mix are Chicago at 5-5, a game and a half back of the Seahawks for the final spot. However, the Bears have lost four straight and are socially distancing themselves from the postseason. Minnesota is a team on the rise after a slow start, climbing back to 4-5 with three wins in a row. They are two games out of playoff contention.

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