Week 13 was quite chaotic; so many changes to the playoff picture in the National Football League, with many teams climbing the ranks. Five weeks remain in the season, and while it seems like very little time, it's still plenty of time for teams looking to make an impact. While the last six weeks of the season serve as the home stretch, panic time doesn't really start until Christmas hits, and that's still a few weeks away.
Before I announce the updated playoff picture, I have to say this. My choice regarding the title of the story was by design. It's my tribute to Norman Lear, who recently passed away at the age of 101, and among the many, many shows he gave us was The Jeffersons. Much like George and Louise ("Weezy"), many teams "moved on up" the ranks of the playoff picture in Week 13, and here's how things look entering Week 14.
In the American Football Conference, the high-scoring Miami Dolphins took over the #1 spot via tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens (who were off in Week 13). Both teams are 9-3, but Miami's 6-2 conference record puts them ahead of Baltimore. The Kansas City Chiefs are in the #3 position at 8-4, and they actually faced being knocked down to #4, though the Jacksonville Jaguars' Monday Night loss prevented that. Both teams are 8-4, but KC's head-to-head win is the difference.
What follows is a four-team logjam in the Wild Card race, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Houston Texans are all 7-5. The Steelers, despite an embarrassing loss to the almost eliminated Arizona Cardinals, have the #5 spot due to a better division record than Cleveland, and a better record against common opponents than Indy, which all eliminates Houston's head-to-head edge over Pittsburgh. The Browns have H2H over Indy, who has H2H over Houston, which places Cleveland at #6, Indy at #7, and Houston behind the playoff line by less than a hair. The Denver Broncos, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Buffalo Bills are all close behind at 6-6, with the Bills being at the bottom of that three way tie due to losing games to Denver and Cincy this season. The Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders are hanging by a thread at 5-7, and they face each other on December 14 (a possible elimination game), while the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans are all but screwed (the Titans can be eliminated this week, but a lot has to happen).
In the National Football Conference, the Philadelphia Eagles dropped to 10-2 with their home blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, who improved to 9-3. The Detroit Lions are also 9-3, though the Niners have the tiebreaker, but both teams are within range of the #1 seed in the conference. Sitting at #4 is the Atlanta Falcons, who lead the NFC South at 6-6, and they are in sole possession of the lead in the trainwreck division.
The Dallas Cowboys are 9-3 and hold the #5 position, and also have a direct chance to take over the division lead and the #1 seed on Sunday Night Football. Below Dallas is a very tight logjam, with four teams at 6-6. The Minnesota Vikings were idle during Week 13, but they still lead the 6-6 teams via tiebreakers. So while they remained at the #6 spot, we have a new team at the #7 spot: the Green Bay Packers. The Packers' big win over the Chiefs, moved the team past the playoff line, due to having head-to-head over the Los Angeles Rams, and a better conference record than the Seattle Seahawks. Regarding the pair of NFC West teams, LA's season series sweep over Seattle puts them right behind Green Bay, while Seattle is at the bottom of the logjam. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints are both 5-7, which not only puts them within range of a Wild Card position, they also have an outside shot at the NFC South. At 4-8, the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears are barely hanging on.
No teams clinched spots during Week 13, but in Week 14, three teams have a shot at locking up playoff spots. In the case of two of them, they have a lot of shots.
The Eagles' loss kept them from becoming the first team to clinch a spot in this year's playoffs, and as a result of the insanity that took place last week, the Eagles have ten ways to get in this week. Four of them involve a win, and if that occurs, they'll need any one of the following: Rams loss or tie, Seahawks loss or tie, Packers and Vikings loss or tie, or Packers loss/tie + Lions loss. The other six involve a tie and two of the 6-6 Wild Card teams failing to win. It's all crazy.
The Dallas Cowboys also have ten ways to clinch a spot, but unlike the Eagles, Dallas has to win, a tie will force them to wait another week. Dallas actually needs a win and a Lions win or tie in all 10 scenarios, and a Buccaneers loss in six of the ten scenarios. Not only does Dallas need at least three of the four 6-6 Wild Card teams to lose, but two of them need a loss or tie from the Saints. Because of the time slot that Eagles/Cowboys is in, both teams will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching, and even then, they'll have to wait for the Packers/Giants result on Monday.
The 49ers also have a shot at joining the playoff party, and unlike the Cowboys and Eagles, their scenarios are simple. A win and either a Vikings loss, a Packers loss, or both of them tying, and they're in. That's it. The Niners host the Seahawks on Sunday's late window, which also has the Vikings in Las Vegas. As for the other scenarios, the Lions visit the Bears in Sunday's early window, the Buccaneers go to Atlanta, and the Saints host Carolina.
Once again, five weeks remain in this NFL season, and the playoff picture is quite interesting. Week 14 should be very captivating with all of the wild scenarios, and the week will determine if any of the three teams lock in their playoff spots.