2023 NFL playoff permutations: Here’s what you need to know

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 08: Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with teammates after an interception during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers defense celebrates after Fred Warner’s interception during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Jobs are being won or lost, and futures are decided upon. It can only mean one thing: the NFL playoffs are just around the corner.

With three weeks of the 2023 regular season remaining, just four of the 14 playoff spots across the two conferences have been sewn up, meaning a lot of teams are vying for a ticket to the postseason.

Here’s all the permutations you need to know about.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. It was to be one of the only highlights for the home fans as the Niners won 30-7.
It was a rough start to the year for the Kansas City Chiefs and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as they were shocked by the Detroit Lions 21-20 in Missouri. Still, many are predicting the Chiefs will repeat this year.
Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb sacks New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on Sunday, December 17. The Dolphins' scored a 30-0 victory over the Jets.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb sacks New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on Sunday, December 17. The Dolphins’ scored a 30-0 victory over the Jets.Sam Navarro/USA Today Network/Reuters

Chamarri Conner, Charles Omenihu and Nick Bolton of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Chiefs won 27-17.
Fans in the stands at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, before the Carolina Panthers' game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers beat the Falcons 9-7.
Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert runs the ball during a game against the Jets.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney nearly catches a Hail Mary pass in the final play of the Bears' game against the Cleveland Browns. Mooney failed to secure the ball and the Browns won 20-17.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder throws the ball during the first half.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver David Moore runs the ball 52 yards for a touchdown during the second half of the Buccaneers' 34-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito walks off the field after losing 24-6 to the New Orleans Saints.
Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta dives into the end zone for a touchdown on Saturday, December 16. The Lions beat the Denver Broncos 42-17.
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler carries the ball. The Vikings lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in overtime.
Indianapolis Colts safety Nick Cross intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens. The Colts beat the Steelers 30-13.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley walks off of the field after losing 63-21 to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, December 14. <a href=

Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins catches a pass during a Monday Night Football game against Miami on December 11. The Titans trailed 27-13 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, but <a href=

D.J. Moore of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown during the first quarter of the Bears' 28-13 upset win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, November 10.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson leaps over Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo during the Cowboys' 33-13 victory. With the win, the Cowboys extended their home winning-streak to 15 games.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to pass in the fourth quarter of a narrow 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown. The Falcons lost 29-25 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tylan Wallace escapes multiple attempted tackles during a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams. Wallace's touchdown earned the Ravens a 37-31 victory.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa celebrates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock. Lock started for the Seahawks on Sunday after veteran Geno Smith was ruled inactive. The 49ers won 28-16.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence reacts after suffering an injury during the Jaguars' 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, December 4.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy looks to pass during the 49ers' 42-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, December 3.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle prepares to snap the ball during the Jets' 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Roger McCreary of the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts running back Trey Sermon attempt to catch the ball. The Colts beat the Titans 31-28 in overtime.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk a catches touchdown pass in the end zone.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton celebrates after catching a 45-yard touchdown pass. The Broncos lost to the Houston Texans 22-17.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks catches a pass for a first down as Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams defends during the Cowboys' 41-35 Thursday Night Football win on November 30.
Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick lifts placekicker Cairo Santos after Santos kicked the game winning field goal against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, November 27. The Bears defeated the Vikings 12-10.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after scoring the game winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in overtime on Sunday, November 26. The Eagles won 37-34.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the Bengals' 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson scrambles in the backfield. The Browns lost 29-12 to the Denver Broncos.
Desmond Ridder of the Atlanta Falcons hands the ball off to Tyler Allgeier during the Falcons' 24-15 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus catches a touchdown pass over Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde.
Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland runs the ball after intercepting New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle's Hail Mary pass on the 1-yard line on Friday, November 24. Holland <a href=

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott eats a turkey leg after the Cowboys' 45-10 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Washington Commanders on November 23.
Christian Watson of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch for a touchdown during a game against the Detroit Lions. The Packers beat the Lions 29-22.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling drops a pass late in the fourth quarter during the Chiefs' Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 20. <a href=

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Seahawks beat the Rams 17-16.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow holds his wrist after a throw during the Bengals' 34-20 Thursday Night Football loss to the Baltimore Ravens on November 16. He tore a ligament in his right wrist.
Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon celebrates with teammates after intercepting the ball during the Colts' 10-6 victory over the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed stiff arms Joey Porter Jr. of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers beat the Packers 23-19.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray runs the ball during the Cardinals' 25-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. It was Murray's first game back in action after being <a href=

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs recovers a fumble.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb celebrates after scoring a touchdown. The Cowboys beat the New York Giants 49-17.
New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas evades Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, second from bottom, is tackled by Detroit's Aidan Hutchinson and Derrick Barnes, top, during the Chargers' 41-38 loss to the Lions. Detroit linebacker Jack Campbell is on the bottom.
Noah Sewell, right, and Jaquan Brisker of the Chicago Bears celebrate during the Bears' 16-13 Thursday Night Football win over the Carolina Panthers on November 9.
Kansas City Chiefs players warm up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 5. The Chiefs beat the Dolphins 21-14.
Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback <a href=

C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stroud threw for 470 yards in the Texans' narrow 39-37 victory.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones grimaces after being sacked during the Giants' 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet catches a touchdown pass while defended by Tyrann Mathieu of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints beat the Bears 24-17.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren evades Tre Avery of the Tennessee Titans on November 2. The Steelers beat the Titans 20-16.
Detroit Lions fans cheer on a third down play during the Lions' 26-14 Monday Night Football victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on October 30.
Denver Broncos cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian celebrates a second quarter interception in Denver on October 29. The Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis throws a pass during the Titans' 28-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Levis threw four touchdowns during the game, his NFL debut.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown makes a one-handed catch to score a touchdown against Washington Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. The Eagles beat the Commanders 38-31.
Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss reaches for a one-yard touchdown run during the Colts' 38-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes walks off the field after the Chiefs' loss to the Denver Broncos. Mahomes, <a href=

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. runs past San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga. The Bengals beat the 49ers 31-17.
Dalton Kincaid of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the Bills' 24-18 Thursday Night Football victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 26.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, embraces Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott after the Patriots beat the Bills 29-25 on October 22. It was Belichick's 300th regular-season victory.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams drops a pass in the end zone. The Raiders lost 30-12 to the Chicago Bears.
Atlanta Falcons placekicker Younghoe Koo celebrates with teammates after making a game-winning field goal on the final play of the Falcons' 16-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams evades Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage, bottom. The Broncos beat the Packers 19-17.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs the ball during the Colts' 39-38 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Teammates run to Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling as he celebrates his touchdown during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs won 31-17.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy scrambles away from Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah during the second half of the 49ers' 19-17 loss on October 15.
Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert jumps over Carolina Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson. Mostert had two touchdowns during the Dolphins' 42-21 victory.
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up wearing a #51 patch honoring the late <a href=

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Christian Rozeboom celebrates his interception during the Rams' 26-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Quincy Williams of the New York Jets tackles Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The Eagles are 5-1 for the season after their 20-14 loss to the Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes calls a play during the Chiefs' 19-8 Thursday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos on October 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed sits on the sideline as Las Vegas Raiders' Robert Spillane is congratulated after his interception on October 9. The Raiders beat the Packers 17-13.
Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Eagles beat the Rams 23-14.
Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta tries in vain to pull in a pass reception in Detroit on October 8. The Lions beat the Carolina Panthers 42-24.
New York Jets running back Breece Hall carries the ball during a game against the Denver Broncos. The Jets won 31-21.
KaVontae Turpin of the Dallas Cowboys catches a touchdown pass during the second quarter of the Cowboys' 42-10 loss the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.
Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss runs the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts beat the Titans 23-16.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens celebrates after catching a 41-yard touchdown pass during the Steelers' 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase runs past Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson after making a catch during the Bengals' 34-20 victory over the Cardinals. Chase scored three touchdowns during the game.
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack sacks Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell during the Chargers' 24-17 victory on October 1. Mack recorded six sacks, becoming the fifth player in NFL history to do so in a single game.
Jacksonville Jaguars fans wave flags ahead of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London. It was the first of five international games the NFL has scheduled this season as part of its ever-expanding International Series. The Jaguars won 23-7.
Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Detroit Lions celebrates with fans during his team's 34-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 28.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Deven Thompkins makes a catch for a touchdown in the second half of the Buccaneers' win 26-9 against the New Orleans Saints.
Cincinnati Bengals' Evan McPherson kicks a field goal during a game against the Tennesee Titans. McPherson was Cincinnati's only player to put points on the board during their 27-3 loss.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin shouts while warming up ahead of the Bills game against the Miami Dolphins. Hamlin participated in the opening kickoff, his first regular season appearance after surviving a cardiac arrest on the field nearly nine months ago. The Bills beat the Dolphins 48-20.
Brian Robinson Jr. of the Washington Commanders makes a pass reception during the second quarter of the Commanders' 34-31 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kareem Jackson of the Denver Broncos celebrates intercepting a pass thrown by Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. The Broncos won 31-28.
Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert celebrates with teammates Braxton Berrios and Christian Wilkins after scoring one of his four touchdowns during the Dolphins' landslide victory over the Broncos on September 24.
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell is tackled by New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers remain undefeated after their 30-12 Thursday Night Football win on September 21.
Grammy Award-winning singer Taylor Swift <a href=

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper pulls in a catch for a touchdown during the Browns' 27-3 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen leaps into the endzone for a touchdown during his team's 37-3 win over the Washington Commanders.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tavius Robinson go after a fumble in the endzone. The Colts beat the Ravens 22-19.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs fends off New Orleans Saints cornerback Isaac Yiadom during the first half at Lambeau Field. The Packers edged out a 18-17 win.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is sacked by Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes in the first half at Ford Field in Detroit. The Falcons lost 20-6.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb grimaces after <a href=

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson scores in the first half of a 30-10 win over the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium on September 17. It was the Jets' first game without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who suffered an ankle injury during his debut with the team in Week 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence throws a pass during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Lawrence threw for 216 yards during Jacksonville's 17-9 loss to Kansas City.
Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert looks for space to run the ball as he evades Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David at Raymond James Stadium. The Bears would lose 27-17.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is tackled by linebacker Preston Smith during the second half of a 25-24 win over the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson makes a catch over New York Giants safety Jason Pinnock at State Farm Stadium. The Cardinals narrowly lost 31-28.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray receives a pass. The Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-9.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates after scoring the team's only touchdown during their 38-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, making his debut with the New York Jets, is sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd. Rodgers <a href=

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey looks for space to run the ball in the second half of a 30-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on September 10 in Pennsylvania.
Carolina Panthers tight end Hayden Hurst tries to stiff arm Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant in the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was all for naught as the Falcons won the game 24-10.
Las Vegas Raiders WR Jakobi Meyers pulls in a touchdown past Denver Broncos CB Damarri Mathis in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. The score would be important as the Raiders edged the home side, 17-16.
It was a rough day for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals as they got trounced by the Cleveland Browns 24-3. The highest paid quarterback in the league had a tough start to the season, throwing 14-for-31 for 82 yards and being crushed here by Browns safety Grant Delpit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Deven Thompkins runs with the ball during the fourth quarter of a 20-17 win against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker JK Scott punts the ball against the Miami Dolphins in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers would lose 36-34 to the Dolphins.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver/punt returner Zay Flowers catches a deep pass in the first quarter during the Houston Texans. Baltimore fans had plenty of action to cheer as their team thoroughly handled the Texans 25-9.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. It was to be one of the only highlights for the home fans as the Niners won 30-7.
It was a rough start to the year for the Kansas City Chiefs and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as they were shocked by the Detroit Lions 21-20 in Missouri. Still, many are predicting the Chiefs will repeat this year.
Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb sacks New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on Sunday, December 17. The Dolphins' scored a 30-0 victory over the Jets.
Chamarri Conner, Charles Omenihu and Nick Bolton of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Chiefs won 27-17.
The best photos from the 2023 NFL season

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American Football Conference (AFC)

The Baltimore Ravens are the only team in the AFC to have already wrapped up their playoff spot after Week 15.

Following their 23-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Ravens are in pole position to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference with a record of 11-3 and ensure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs as a result.

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Below them, everything is still up for grabs, with quarterback injuries adding an element of jeopardy to the AFC race.

The Miami Dolphins sit second in the conference at 10-4 and first in the AFC East division. The team would claim a spot in the postseason with a victory in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys but would clinch the division title if the Buffalo Bills lose or tie.

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Nov 19, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks for a passing option against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks for a passing option against the Las Vegas Raiders.Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Kansas City Chiefs – the reigning Super Bowl champions – sit third in the AFC with a 9-5 record, reflecting a thoroughly frustrating season; the defense has looked elite but offensive miscues and a lack of explosiveness have blighted the team’s progress this year.

Even so, in an underwhelming AFC West, the Chiefs can clinch the division title with a Week 16 victory and book their spot in the playoffs as a result. However, Kansas City will need a major slip up from both Baltimore and Miami if it has any hopes of the No. 1 seed.

Below the Chiefs comes a host of teams all sitting on an 8-6 record – apart from the Cleveland Browns on 9-5 – vying for spots in the postseason.

The Jaguars, the Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts occupy the final four remaining spots in the bracket, with the Houston Texans and the Bills on the outside.

ClevelandCincinnati and Indianapolis have all battled season-ending injuries to their starting quarterbacks. The Browns are on their fourth quarterback of the year but will have to keep winning to book a spot in a competitive AFC.

Jacksonville has lost three straight games, to allow the Colts – manned by backup quarterback Gardner Minshew – to race back into contention but the Jaguars hold the tie-breaker over their AFC South rivals after beating them twice this season already.

As long as they match Indy’s results for the rest of the season, the Jaguars will book their spot in the playoffs.

The Browns have undergone a late-season surge under Joe Flacco’s leadership and, although the AFC North division title looks out of reach thanks to Baltimore’s continued excellence, they remain well in with a shout of reaching the playoffs.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 03: Joe Flacco #15 of the Cleveland Browns calls out instructions in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Joe Flacco calls out instructions in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With a one-game lead over most of their AFC competitors, two wins from the final remaining three weeks should see the Browns into the postseason.

The Bengals and the Colts both face a stiff task with backups leading the way to remain in the playoff hunt, particularly with the Texans and the Bills lurking, ready to pounce on any mistake.

The Bills themselves are arguably the hottest team in the NFL at the moment off the back of https://caridimanaka.com an impressive victory over the Dallas Cowboys last time out but, following a slow start to the season, sit on the outside of the playoff standings in ninth place with three games remaining.

With three weeks remaining of the NFL regular season, the bottom of the AFC playoff picture is all to play for as the drama heats up with the culmination of the season approaching.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys.Adrian Kraus/AP

National Football Conference (NFC)

Three teams from the NFC have already booked their spot in the playoffs this season.

The San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles all have their postseason berths secured with three weeks remaining.

The 49ers look the strongest bet to wrap up the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage with a one-game lead in the standings, and the imperious form they are showing at the moment in contrast to both Dallas’ and Philadelphia’s up-and-down finishes to the year.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore (21) celebrates with his teammates after intercepting a pass during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore celebrates with his teammates after intercepting a pass during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers.Ashley Landis/AP

Below the three teams already in the postseason, the Detroit Lions currently own the third seed as NFC North leaders with a record of 10-4 as the team enjoys a magical season.

And the squad could go one step further shortly as a Week 16 victory would clinch the division title and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs – the first time Detroit would make the postseason since 2016.

There is a big drop off in record between the Lions and the next best franchise, with the next five teams all tied on 7-7 for the year.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently occupy the fourth seed as NFC South division leaders but remain tied with the New Orleans Saints on the same record.

The two face off in a critical Week 17 clash on New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay which could be the decider on who makes it in and who goes home.

The Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams currently occupy the remaining NFC playoffs spots but are going in different directions as the end of the season approaches.

Dec 17, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass against the Washington Commanders during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford drops back to pass against the Washington Commanders.Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Quarterback injuries have ravaged the Vikings who have lost three of their last four and they now face the Lions twice in the final three weeks of the season.

The Rams, however, are improving with a young roster led by a veteran quarterback – Matthew Stafford – and have two winnable games coming up against the Saints and the lowly New York Giants; a playoff spot is well within their grasp.

The Seattle Seahawks and the Saints currently sit outside the playoff spots knowing they need to better the teams above them to reach the postseason.

AFC standings after Week 15

1)     Baltimore Ravens – 11-3, first in AFC North (clinched playoff spot)

2)     Miami Dolphins – 10-4, first in AFC East

3)     Kansas City Chiefs – 9-5, first in AFC West

4)     Jacksonville Jaguars – 8-6, first in AFC South

5)     Cleveland Browns – 9-5, second in AFC North

6)     Cincinnati Bengals – 8-6, third in AFC North

7)     Indianapolis Colts – 8-6, second in AFC South

On the outside

8)     Houston Texans – 8-6, third in AFC South

9)     Buffalo Bills – 8-6, second in AFC East

NFC standings after Week 15

1)     San Francisco 49ers – 11-3, first in NFC West (clinched playoff spot)

2)     Dallas Cowboys – 10-4, first in NFC East (clinched playoff spot)

3)     Detroit Lions – 10-4, first in NFC North

4)     Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 7-7, first in NFC South

5)     Philadelphia Eagles – 10-4, second in NFC East (clinched playoff spot)

6)     Minnesota Vikings – 7-7, second in NFC North

7)     Los Angeles Rams – 7-7, second in NFC West

On the outside

8)     Seattle Seahawks – 7-7, third in NFC West

9)     New Orleans Saints – 7-7, second in NFC South

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