With the end of the NFL regular season approaching, we tasked you to pick your end-of-season NFL playoff picture…
For the last month you have been voting for the teams you think will make it to the postseason from both the AFC and the NFC. More than 15,000 votes were cast, and the results are in…
Who makes NFL playoff, which misses out?
In the AFC, like in their Week 15 match-up, the New England Patriots (11-3) just about got the better of the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) for the No 1 seed and home-field advantage for the playoffs, while, despite winning back-to-back games – including against playoff and AFC West rivals Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) – you have left the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) out of your AFC line-up – their poor form following a 5-0 start to the season obviously hurting their popularity. Their 510 votes was almost 200 fewer than the Chargers (705), and 61 less than the Tennessee Titans (8-6), who edged them out for the No 6 seed. Divisional rivals Oakland Raiders (6-8) also miss out, sitting not far behind on 493 votes, while the Buffalo Bills (8-6) – who actually hold the No 6 seed currently in the NFL – proved to be an unpopular choice, polling only 226 votes, good enough for ninth spot.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) clung on to top spot over the Minnesota Vikings (11-3), despite the recent loss of star quarterback Carson Wentz, who is out for the season due to injury. In the ultra-competitive NFC South, you have picked the New Orleans Saints (10-4) to emerge as divisional champs, with the Carolina Panthers (10-4) earning a Wild Card spot and, perhaps most surprisingly, the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) missing out altogether. In their place, the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) – despite losing back-to-back games – not only sneak into the playoffs, but somehow secure the No 5 seed, thanks to receiving only six more votes than the Panthers (and 160 more than Atlanta). Despite an Aaron Rodgers return and Ezekiel Elliott’s this weekend, the Green Bay Packers (7-7) and Dallas Cowboys (8-6) failed to poll enough votes for a playoff place – 398 and 310, respectively.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-6): AFC West leader. They’ve never won the AFC West in consecutive seasons. That will change with one more win or one more Chargers loss.
Baltimore Ravens (9-6): Wild card No. 1. Their end-of-season schedule has them sitting pretty with the lowly Colts their latest victim on Saturday. Beat the Bengals in Week 17, and Baltimore is assured a wild-card spot.
Tennessee Titans (8-6): Wild card No. 2. The only upside of their current two-game skid is that losses to NFC teams are least penal in the tiebreaker hierarchy. Still, the Titans are in trouble. Even if they win out, they’re going home if the Ravens and Bills also wind up with 10-6 records by virtue of the common games tiebreaker.
In the hunt: Buffalo Bills (8-6), Los Angeles Chargers (7-7), Miami Dolphins (6-8), Oakland Raiders (6-8)
Los Angeles Rams (10-4): NFC West leader. One more win (or loss by the Seahawks) will give the Rams their first NFC West championship since 2003. L.A. could also back into a playoff berth this weekend if the Lions, Panthers and Falcons all lose.
New Orleans Saints (10-4): NFC South leader. Beat the Falcons on Sunday, and the Saints are playoff bound. Couple that with a Carolina loss, and New Orleans wins the highly competitive NFC South. But a loss means trouble in a tightly packed division.
Carolina Panthers (10-4): Wild card No. 1. They could still get a bye. They could still fall out of the field entirely. But top the spiraling Buccaneers on Sunday, and Carolina’s assured of a tournament spot.
Atlanta Falcons (9-5): Wild card No. 2. As underwhelming as they’ve been this year, the Falcons have managed to win most of their key games, including defeats of all three 8-6 clubs chasing them for the final wild-card spot. But if Atlanta beats the Saints and Panthers to finish the season, it retains the NFC South title. Nearer term, the Dirty Birds will secure an opportunity to return to the Super Bowl with a win at New Orleans on Sunday.