NFL-Record 27 Teams Alive in Playoff Hunt With 3 Weeks of Play Remaining

Of the NFL's 32 teams, only 10 have records below .500 through 15 weeks of regular-season play

Ryan Tannehill of the Titans is tackled by Alex Highsmith of the Steelers
Ryan Tannehill of the Titans is tackled by Alex Highsmith of the Steelers.
Justin Berl/Getty

With three weeks left to play in the NFL’s first 17-game regular season, a record number of teams are still in contention for a spot in the postseason, which will begin with the wild-card round on January 15.

Only one team, the Green Bay Packers, has clinched a playoff spot, and there are only five teams who are no longer in contention for a postseason berth: Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston and the New York Jets.

The Packers are a game up on the Cowboys in playoff seeding in the NFC and have a good shot at the conference’s top spot and a first-round bye with upcoming games against the COVID-19-riddled Cleveland Browns, mediocre Minnesota Vikings and deplorable Detroit Lions.

The top of the playoff picture is much less clear in the AFC where no team has clinched a playoff spot. This is just the sixth time since the eight-division format started in 2002 that no team in a conference had clinched a playoff berth with three weeks left in the season, according to The Associated Press. The Chiefs are currently No. 1 in the conference but are having tons of COVID-19 issues of their own heading into a game against the Steelers. A KC loss coupled with a win this week from either the Patriots or Titans will knock the Chiefs out of pole position.

Uncertain at the top, the playoff picture is unresolved in the middle and bottom as well as there are seven teams across the league at 7-7 (Cleveland, Las Vegas, Miami, Denver, Minnesota, Philadelphia and New Orleans) and one at 7-6-1 (Pittsburgh).

With 13 of the NFL’s 14 playoff spots still open, the final three weeks of the season should be incredibly important, and final seeding for the postseason should come down to the end of Week 18 with nearly every team in the league having something to play for.

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