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The NFL is racing towards the playoffs as the 2022 season has reached week 16.
Christmas Eve brought a stacked list of games that made a significant impact on the postseason.
After the entire Saturday schedule came to an end, the playoff picture gained some clarity. Here’s a look at the current state of affairs:
- Buffalo Bills: 12-3 (winning AFC East)
- Kansas City Chiefs: 12-3 (won AFC West)
- Cincinnati Bengals: 11-4 (saved playoff berth)
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 7-8
- Baltimore Ravens: 10-5 (guaranteed playoff berth)
- Los Angeles Chargers: 8-6
- Miami Dolphins: 8-6
- New England Patriots: 7-8
- New York Jets: 7-8
- Tennessee Titans: 7-8
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-8
- Las Vegas Raiders: 6-9
- Cleveland Browns: 6-9 (eliminated)
- Indianapolis Colts: 4-9-1 (eliminated)
- Denver Broncos: 4-10 (retired)
- Houston Texans: 2-12-1 (retired)
- Philadelphia Eagles: 13-2 (saved playoff berth)
- Minnesota Vikings: 12-3 (closed NFC North)
- San Francisco 49ers: 11-4 (winning NFC West)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-8
- Dallas Cowboys: 11-4 (achieved playoff berth)
- New York Giants: 8-6-1
- Washington Commanders: 7-7-1
- Seattle Seahawks: 7-8
- Detroit Lions: 7-8
- Green Bay Packers: 6-8
- Carolina Panthers: 6-9
- New Orleans Saints: 6-9
- Atlanta Falcons: 5-10 (eliminated)
- Arizona Cardinals: 4-10 (eliminated)
- Los Angeles Rams: 4-10 (eliminated)
- Chicago Bears: 3-12 (eliminated)
For the third straight season, the Buffalo Bills claimed the AFC East crown after star quarterback Josh Allen led the team to a 35-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Saturday.
the @BuffaloBills are AFC East champions for the third straight season 💪 pic.twitter.com/HxsX7kSTIz
While playing in frigid conditions at the Windy City, the Bills were actually 10-6 down at halftime before amassing 29 points in the last two quarters. Buffalo went into the year as the likely favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVII, and a sixth straight win shows the team is poised to live up to that expectation.
In addition to the Bills, the Baltimore Ravens, who are back in the playoffs after a one-year break, celebrate on Saturday. Baltimore defeated the Atlanta Falcons 17-9 before getting help from an AFC North rival as the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New England Patriots 22-18 to secure the Ravens’ postseason berth.
Baltimore Ravens @ravens
HAPPY CLINCHMAS❗️ pic.twitter.com/bkTFTlUPRu
Arguably the most shocking result of Saturday was the Houston Texans ending their nine-game losing streak with a 19-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. The result had a significant impact as the Titans are now out of first place in the AFC South thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win over the New York Jets Thursday night soccer. After a fifth loss in a row, Tennessee is also outside the playoffs.
The Kansas City Chiefs kept pace in the race for the AFC No. 1 with a 24-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. The Bills own the tiebreaker after beating the Chiefs in Week 6, so Kansas City are certainly hoping Buffalo slip in the last two weeks of the regular season.
The Seahawks’ loss could have been devastating to their playoff hopes, but the rising Detroit Lions had ended their three-game winning streak after a 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Seattle remains in the postseason bubble, but the window is closing fast. However, the Seahawks benefited from the Washington Commanders’ 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers as Washington failed to win a game in the winning column.
The New York Giants were denied their postseason ticket after a 27-24 loss to NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings, who won after time with a 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to solve.
GREG JOSEPH 61-YARD FIELD GOAL FOR THE WIN! @WIKINGS #NYGvsMIN pic.twitter.com/a7JwsbirRX
The Giants maintain their position in the NFC ladder, but Saturday’s loss was an emotional disappointment. New York quarterback Daniel Jones had engineered a seven-game, 75-yard drive in less than a minute to tie the game at 24 with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, only for Minnesota to hit back with the game-winning kick.
The conference-leading Philadelphia Eagles were also denied a chance to win the NFC East by suffering a 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in a Christmas Eve thriller. The Eagles were without star quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was sitting with a shoulder injury. It’s still mathematically possible for Dallas to top the league table, so Philadelphia will certainly be looking to give their best in the final two weeks of the season.