The races for the final Wild Card berths in the AFC and NFC are coming down to the wire and the Week 15 NFL schedule is filled with games with massive playoff implications, especially in the NFC, where two games, in particular, will go a long way to cementing the field.
First, if the season ended today, the playoff field would look like this. (Playoff teams are in bold.)
|#1 KC||12-1||#1 GB||10-3|
|#2 PIT||11-2||#2 NO||10-3|
|#3 BUF||10-3||#3 LAR||9-4|
|#4 TEN||9-4||#4 WAS||6-7|
|#5 CLE||9-4||#5 SEA||9-4|
|#6 IND||9-4||#6 TB||8-5|
|#7 MIA||8-5||#7 ARI||7-6|
|#8 (Out) BAL||8-5||#8 (Out) MIN||6-7|
|#9 (Out) LV||7-6||#9 (Out) CHI||6-7|
|#10 (Out) NE||6-7||#10 (Out) DET||5-8|
|#11 (Out) DEN||5-8||#11 (Out)) SF||5-8|
|#12 (Elim.) HOU||4-9||#12 (Out) NYG||5-8|
|#13 (Elim.) LAC||4-9||#13 (Out) PHI||4-8-1|
|#14 (Elim.) CIN||2-10-1||#14 (Out) DAL||4-9|
|#15 (Elim.) JAX||1-12||#15 (Elim.) ATL||4-9|
|#16 (Elim.) NYJ||0-13||#16 (Out) CAR||4-9|
Chicago vs Minnesota Is (Basically) Do-or-Die
The biggest game of the week sees the #8 and #9 seeds in the NFC going head-to-head to stay in the hunt for the seventh and final playoff spot in the conference. On Sunday at 1:00 pm ET, the Chicago Bears will travel to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Vikings as three-point underdogs in the latest Week 15 NFL odds.
Sitting one game behind Arizona for the last Wild Card spot, the loser will be effectively eliminated. Even heading into the game, the playoff chances for both teams is as low as 20% according to some statisticians.
Seattle vs Washington Is Huge for Both Teams
Another pivotal NFC clash will go down in the nation’s capital at 1:00 pm ET on Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks head east to face the Washington Football Team at FexEx Field.
The Seahawks are comfortably in the playoffs at 9-4, but they dropped the lead in the NFC West to the Rams two weeks ago when they were upset at home by the NY Giants (17-12). Now they are looking at a road game in the first round of the playoffs unless they leapfrog the Rams in the final three weeks of the regular season. Currently 6-1 at home and just 3-3 on the road, Seattle will be eager to stay in the Pacific Northwest for as long as possible in the postseason.
Washington is the unlikely leader of the much-maligned NFC East at 6-7. The Giants at 5-8 are just one game behind, while the 4-8-1 Eagles are 1.5 games back.
Washington is a 5.5-point home underdog to the Seahawks, which does not bode well. But luckily, the Giants are 4.5-point underdogs to the visiting Cleveland Browns and the Eagles are getting a full six points on the road in Arizona.
Week 15 starts on Thursday with the LA Chargers vs Las Vegas Raiders. Saturday, the Buffalo Bills visit the Denver Broncos at 4:30 pm ET followed by Carolina vs Green Bay at 8:15 pm ET.
After 12 more games on Sunday, the week will wrap with an AFC North mismatch between the 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.