Behind The Scoreboard

NFL playoffs taking shape

It’s that time of year, NFL fans.

There are only two regular season games left in the NFL. And as Week 15 has moved on, it’s impossible for any football fan not to look forward to the playoff scenarios, those head-to-head tiebreakers and of course the playoff picture too, as we go through these last few days left in December across the National Football League.

Sunday’s games gave us a glimpse of how the NFL playoff picture was shaping up for the post-season.

Earlier in Week 15, the Dallas Cowboys were the only team that was assured of a spot in the playoffs. Then, on Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks joined the elite group with a 24-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks clinched their third division crown in the NFC West.

So, who else will join Dallas and Seattle in the playoffs?

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots punched their playoff ticket on Sunday with a 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. The Patriots also won the AFC East for the eighth consecutive season and secured a first-round bye. This loss was devastating to the Broncos’ playoff hopes.

The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Diego Chargers 19-16 to earn a playoff berth. It’s been 14 years (since 2002) for the Raiders’ return to the playoffs. And a coincidence too, the Raiders earned the post-season nod on the same field (Qualcomm Stadium) where they were so thoroughly humiliated in the 2003 Super Bowl.

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looked after a Sunday night game where the Dallas Cowboys’ rookies, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, rebounded from last week’s dismal performance to pace the Cowboys to a 26-20 victory over Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The division leaders in the AFC are: 1) New England (12-2) clinched AFC East and first round bye; 2) Oakland (11-3) clinched playoff berth; 3) Pittsburgh (9-5); 4) Houston (8-6). The wildcard holders are Kansas City (10-4) and Miami (9-5).  In the hunt are Baltimore (8-6), Tennessee (8-6), Denver (8-6), Indiana­polis (7-7) and Buffalo (7-7).

The division leaders in the NFC are: 1) Dallas (12-2) clinched playoff berth; 2) Seattle (9-4-1) clinched the NFC West; 3) Atlanta (9-5); 4) Detroit (9-5). The wildcard holders are New York Giants (10-4) and Washington (7-5-1). In the hunt are Tampa Bay (8-6), Green Bay (8-6), Minnesota (7-7), New Orleans (6-8) and Carolina (5-8).

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