NFL Playoff Scenarios 2023-24 Week 15: Matchups After Titans, Giants Wins

NFL Playoff Scenarios 2023-24 Week 15: Matchups After Titans, Giants Wins

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 11: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins under center in the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on December 11, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Two Monday Night Football games meant the chance for two teams to take a step closer toward the playoffs.

And they both blew it.

The Tennessee Titans stunned the Miami Dolphins with a late comeback, while the New York Giants did the same to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC. Both the Dolphins and Packers are still in the playoff picture in their respective conferences, but Miami missed a chance to move into the No. 1 seed and Green Bay moved precariously close to falling out.

Here is a look at the updated projected postseason matchups based on the current standings:

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-3, first-round bye)

2. Miami Dolphins (9-4) vs. 7. Indianapolis Colts (7-6, tiebreaker over Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5, tiebreaker over Jacksonville Jaguars) vs. 6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6, tiebreaker over Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) vs. 5. Cleveland Browns (8-5)

NFC

1. San Francisco 49ers (10-3, first-round bye, tiebreaker over Dallas Cowboys)

2. Dallas Cowboys (10-3, tiebreaker over Philadelphia Eagles) vs. 7. Green Bay Packers (6-7, tiebreaker over Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints)

3. Detroit Lions (9-4) vs. 6. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7, tiebreaker over Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints) vs. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3)

The race for the AFC wild-card spots is, in a word, chaotic.

The Cleveland Browns are one-game clear of the 7-6 mess at 8-5, but one loss could dramatically alter their outlook. For now, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts are the final two wild-card teams, but they have the same record as four other challengers.

In summary, the Steelers, Colts, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills all have 7-6 records and could be switching spots in the standings based on every single outcome the rest of the way. Throw in the Browns, and there are no clear-cut favorites.

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JOSH ALLEN

📺: #BUFvsKC on CBS
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/pWMED8SAQa pic.twitter.com/bhaVIfqCNL

Part of what makes this such a mess is the quarterback situation.

Cincinnati (Joe Burrow), Cleveland (Deshaun Watson), Pittsburgh (Kenny Pickett) and Indianapolis (Anthony Richardson) have all been playing without their original starters. And now Houston could be without C.J. Stroud after he suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.

Some of the backups have impressed at times, including Jake Browning in two straight wins for Cincinnati, but it only adds to the unpredictability of the race.

Perhaps Russell Wilson and Josh Allen will play like two of the best quarterbacks in the league down the stretch and elevate the Broncos and Bills ahead of the teams relying on their backups. Or perhaps Joe Flacco will continue to play well enough to keep the Browns ahead of the rest of the challengers.

It will be one of the most intriguing storylines for the rest of the NFL season.

On the NFC’s side, the battle for the No. 1 seed took another turn when the Dallas Cowboys handled the Philadelphia Eagles with relative ease during a 33-13 victory on Sunday. Dak Prescott is playing like an MVP, and his team has now won five in a row.

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Dak and CeeDee wasting no time with an opening drive TD

📺: #PHIvsDAL on NBC
📱: Stream on #NFLPlus https://t.co/YCEDNi5Ozb pic.twitter.com/aOxzGl0RQE

Yet the Cowboys are still looking up at the San Francisco 49ers thanks to the latter’s head-to-head win in Week 5. That may have been a different Dallas team, but San Francisco has eliminated the Cowboys in two straight playoffs and won with ease in this year’s matchup as well.

Dallas’ best chance at changing its recent luck against the 49ers may come down to whether it can overtake them for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage.

It has four games remaining to determine its fate.

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