NFL Playoff Picture Coming into Focus

Action in Week 14 provided a shakeup at the tops and bottoms of both the NFC and AFC playoff picture. Each conference has a new No. 1 seed after Sunday’s games, and two divisions have new leaders as well.

Kings of the North

The NFC North crowned a division winner Sunday as the Green Bay Packers (10-3) held off the Detroit Lions in a 31-24 victory. With that win and a loss by the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers clinched the NFC North for the second straight season.

Green Bay also moved into the top seed in the NFC, and if the season ended today, the playoffs would go through the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The Packers (-8.5) have a short week, hosting the 4-9 Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

Saints Stumble in Philly

The Packers moved into the NFC's top spot because the New Orleans Saints (10-3) lost 24-21 to Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1). New Orleans is still in great shape in the NFC South as they lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) by two games, plus they have the tiebreaker over the Bucs.

However, New Orleans lost to Green Bay back in September, giving the Packers the head-to-head tiebreaker there. The Saints return home this week to host the Kansas City Chiefs, who opened as a four-point favorite.

Beasts of the East

There’s a new sheriff in town in the NFC East, and it's the surprising Washington Football Team, who keep finding ways to win. Quarterback Alex Smith was injured again, but Washington took the division lead away from the New York Giants with two defensive touchdowns in a 23-15 win over San Francisco. At 6-7, Washington leads the Giants (5-8) by one game, but New York has the tiebreaker. Washington hosts Seattle as a four-point home underdog on Sunday.

AFC Battle at the Top

The top of the AFC has taken a major turn in the last week as the previously unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers lost twice in six days. This time, they fell to the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills 26-15 to fall to 11-2. The Steelers will be on the road next Monday in Cincinnati.

When the Steelers lost, the Chiefs moved into the No. 1 spot in the AFC. At 12-1, the defending Super Bowl champions beat Miami 33-27 on Sunday. With that win, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West heading into the Week 15 showdown in New Orleans.

Fight For the Seven Seed

In the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals beat the Giants 26-7 to improve to 7-6 on the season. That win, coupled with the Minnesota Vikings 26-14 loss in Tampa Bay, gave Arizona sole possession of the seventh and final seed in the NFC. Minnesota (6-7) hosts the Chicago Bears (6-7) this week in what is likely an elimination game for the losing squad. The Vikings are favored by 3.5 points.

Despite losing to the Chiefs, the Miami Dolphins (8-5) are in the seventh spot in the AFC, one win behind the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. Those two teams are tied for the AFC South title. They have a one-game lead on the Las Vegas Raiders (7-6) and a two-game lead on the New England Patriots (6-7). The Baltimore Ravens (7-5) can pull even with the Dolphins if they beat the Cleveland Browns (9-3) on the road on Monday Night Football.