MEXICO CITY.- Every team in the NFL has four games left and only one playoff berth has been clinched, as the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (12-1) became the first team to clinch the seed last week. 2022 marks the fifth season since 2002 in which at least one team clinched a postseason berth entering Week 15.
At this point, there are five teams that missed the postseason in 2021 that are currently in position to qualify: BALTIMORE (9-4) and MIAMI (8-5) in the AFC and MINNESOTA (10-3), NEW YORK GIANTS ( 7-5-1) and WASHINGTON (7-5-1) in the NFC. Since 1990, a streak of 32 consecutive seasons, at least four teams have qualified for the postseason each season having missed it the year before.
In eight of the last 12 seasons, including each of the last four, a team with a losing record after 13 games has advanced to the postseason. There are nine teams this season that enter Week 15 with five or six wins, including TAMPA BAY (6-7), which currently leads the NFC South, and DETROIT (6-7), winners of five of their last six.
The starting 11 take a look at where each division race stands entering Week 15…
1. AFC EAST. Each of the four teams in the AFC East – BUFFALO (10-3), MIAMI (8-5), NEW ENGLAND (7-6) and NEW YORK JETS (7-6) – have a winning record this season. Along with the 2022 NFC East, it marks the first time since the 2014 AFC North that all four teams in a division have won their first 13 games.
Buffalo hosts Miami on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NFL Network) in their second game of the season, with the Dolphins earning a 21-19 victory in Week 3. Last week, quarterback JOSH ALLEN recorded his 24th career game with at least one touchdown pass and one touchdown carry, tied with Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON (24 games) for the fourth-most than that many games in NFL history, while the Bills posted their fourth straight 10-win season.
The Patriots are seeking a postseason berth for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons. BILL BELICHICK has led his team to the postseason in 19 separate seasons and may surpass Hall of Famer DON SHULA for the most postseasons as head coach of all time.
The Jets are seeking a postseason berth for the first time since 2010. Over the past three weeks, quarterback MIKE WHITE ranks third in the NFL with 317.3 passing yards per game, while the Jets’ offense ranks third with 420.3 total yards of offense per game in that span.
2. AFC NORTH. The BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-4) and CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-4) currently lead the AFC North division standings. The two teams will meet in week 18.
The Ravens have won six of their last seven games and are 3-0 against divisional opponents this season as they prepare to visit CLEVELAND BROWNS (5-8) on Saturday (4:30 PM ET, NFL Network).
Baltimore is looking to go “worst to first” after finishing tied for last in the division last season. In 17 of the last 19 seasons, at least one team finished the season in first place after finishing last or tied for last.
Cincinnati won five straight games, the longest active winning streak in the AFC, and visits the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-7) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). The Bengals are looking to clinch back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 2012-15 (four straight seasons).
3. AFC SOUTH. The TENNESSEE TITANS (7-6) lead the AFC South and have a chance this season to clinch a third straight division title.
The JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-8) are currently second in the division and are coming off a win over Tennessee in Week 14. In the win, quarterback TREVOR LAWRENCE became the youngest player ever (23 years, 66 days). in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a touchdown carry in a game. Jaguars will host Titans in week 18.
4. AFC WEST. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-3) leads the AFC West and looks to win its seventh straight division title, which would tie the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams for the second-longest division title streak in NFL history.
Last week, quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, who leads the league with 4,160 passing yards in 2022, joined Hall of Famer PEYTON MANNING as the only players in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards in five of his first six seasons.
The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS sits in second place in the division and enters Week 15 as one of four AFC teams with a 7-6 record. Last week, quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT threw for a season-high 367 yards and has 13,056 career passing yards, passing ANDREW LUCK (12,957) for the most passing yards by a player in his first three seasons in the history.
5. NFC EAST. Every team in the NFC East – PHILADELPHIA (12-1), DALLAS (10-3), WASHINGTON (7-5-1) and NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5-1) – have winning records this season and division. he currently holds four of the seven NFC postseason spots. There were only three previous divisions that qualified at least four teams for the postseason in the same year, none of which have occurred since the 2002 realignment: the 1998 AFC East, the 1997 NFC Central, and the 1994 NFC Central.
Last week, Philadelphia became the first team to earn a postseason berth this season, their second straight trip to the postseason under head coach NICK SIRIANNI. Quarterback JALEN HURTS recorded his 10th TD carry in the win and became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 10 TD carries in consecutive seasons.
Dallas won four straight games, including a dramatic comeback victory last week over Houston in which quarterback DAK PRESCOTT led the Cowboys’ offense 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown that began with less than four minutes remaining in the game. the fourth period. Since Week 7, when Prescott returned from an injury suffered in Week 1, Dallas has the highest scoring offense in the league (35.7 ppg).
There hasn’t been a repeat NFC East division winner since 2004, the longest active streak between divisions in the NFL and the longest in league history.
6. DID YOU KNOW? WASHINGTON (7-5-1) is playing its second straight game against the NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5-1), sandwiched with the Commanders bye in Week 14. The two teams tied 20-20 in Week 13. Since the league merger of 1970, a team has played two consecutive regular season games against the same opponent twice before. It happened last season for Cleveland, when it lost to Baltimore in Week 12, was byed in Week 13 and then avenged the loss with a Week 14 win over the Ravens. The only other instance was during the 1991 season, when the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers in Week 9, then lost to the Chargers two weeks later in Week 11. Both Seattle and San Diego had a bye in Week 10 of that season. season.
7. NFC NORTH. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-3), under first-year head coach KEVIN O’CONNELL, leads the division and looks to clinch its first division title since 2017. A rookie head coach has qualified for the postseason in each of the last six seasons (2016-21). Miami’s MIKE MCDANIEL and New York Giants’ BRIAN DABOLL are also rookie head coaches who have their teams close to reaching the postseason entering Week 15.
The Vikings have won nine games by one touchdown (eight points) this season and can become the third team in history to win 10 games in a single season by eight points or less, joining the 2019 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS and the 1978 HOUSTON OILERS.
The DETROIT LIONS can become the first team since Cincinnati in 1970 to reach the postseason after starting a season with one or fewer wins in its first seven games.
8. NFC SOUTH. TAMPA BAY (6-7) holds a one-game lead over ATLANTA (5-8) and CAROLINA (5-8) atop the NFC South as the 2020 Super Bowl champions seek their first consecutive division titles . The Buccaneers will face the Panthers in week 17 and the Falcons in week 18.
Since TOM BRADY joined Tampa Bay in 2020, the Buccaneers have the third-highest winning percentage in December and January regular-season games (.833; 10-2), trailing only GREEN BAY (.909; 10 -1) and BUFFALO (. 846; 11-2).
Atlanta’s rookie quarterback DESMOND RIDDER will make his first start at NEW ORLEANS (4-9) on Sunday (1:00 pm ET, Fox) and may become the sixth rookie quarterback to start a game during the 2022 season. This would mark the seventh consecutive season in which at least six rookie quarterbacks have started at least one game.
Carolina, which is 3-1 in its last four games and 3-0 at home under interim coach STEVE WILKS, will host PITTSBURGH (5-8) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
Both Atlanta and Carolina are looking to qualify for the postseason after starting the season 0-2. In six of the past 10 seasons (2013-21), at least one team that started the season 0-2 has reached the postseason.
9. NFC WEST. The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (9-4), who will visit the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-6) in Thursday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, Prime Video), can qualify with a win to the postseason for the second straight year and win their first NFC West division title since 2019.
In Week 14, quarterback BROCK PURDY became the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with at least two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown, and a passer rating of 125 or higher in the first start of his season. career.
Seattle, currently a half-game behind the Commanders and Giants for an NFC wild card berth, is aiming to reach the postseason for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Quarterback GENO SMITH leads the NFL this season with nine games of at least two touchdown passes and a passer rating of 100 or higher.
10. TREND. A look at the NFL schedule for the past four weeks…
There are five teams – Chicago, Green Bay, Las Vegas, Seattle and Washington – that will finish with three of their last four games at home.
There are five teams – Arizona, Dallas, Detroit, the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants – that will finish with three of their final four games on the road.
Each of Cincinnati’s last four games are against teams currently in postseason position, while seven other teams will face a team currently in a postseason berth in three of their last four meetings.
11. CLOSED MATCHES. There were 158 games within a score (eight points) in the final period through Week 14 (76 percent of games) and 92 games decided by six points or fewer, both the most through Week 14 in NFL history. The average final point-scoring margin of 9.52 points this season would be the lowest for a full season since 1932 (9.13).
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Five teams in search of the NFL postseason