Week 15 of the NFL witnessed how the five teams that came in with a shot at clinching a postseason berth did so.
San Francisco 49ers (10-4), Minnesota Vikings (11-3) and Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) are already division champions; The Buffalo Bills (11-3) and Dallas Cowboys (10-4) are in the playoffs, at worst as wild-card teams.
The Cowboys were the only one that came with the possibility of tying the next round that they lost, but the victory of the New York Giants over the Washington Commanders ended up giving them the ticket.
Thus, with only three games to play, the outlook begins to clear up for some teams and for others, it has completely darkened.
The five teams that qualified this week were joined by the Philadelphia Eagles (13-1), who clinched their berth from the previous week.
1.- BEST RECORD WITHOUT A DIVISIONAL TITLE
The Eagles have the best record in the NFL and their best record after 14 games, but are yet to clinch the NFC East title.
All they need is a win or tie against the Cowboys next Christmas Eve at AT&T Stadium, which would also give them a first-round playoff bye and home postseason advantage.
They could also clinch the first NFC playoff seed with a tie, plus a Vikings loss or tie.
The Cowboys, who lost this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, already secured at least one wild card ticket.
2.- ONLY TWO OUT IN NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The Arizona Cardinals (4-10) and Chicago Bears (3-11) are the only two teams to finish Week 15 without any chance of going to the postseason.
Four teams are already in the next one: Eagles, Dallas, San Francisco and the Vikings; the last two as divisional champions in the West and North, respectively.
Close to getting the ticket are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8), although with a losing record, as first of the South Division of the National.
Behind them, the Giants (8-5-1) dawn on Monday with the seventh and last place in this sector; closely followed by the Commanders (7-6-1), Seattle Seahawks (7-7) and Detroit Lions (7-7).
With few aspirations but still with mathematical hope are the Los Angeles Rams (4-9) and the Green Bay Packers (5-8), who meet this Monday night.
Same situation of Carolina Panthers (5-9), New Orleans Saints (5-9) and Atlanta Falcons (5-9).
3.- THEY ARE STILL ALIVE IN THE AMERICAN CONFERENCE
The Jaguars (6-8) are more awake than ever in their aspirations to be crowned in the American South Division, thanks to their victory over Dallas and the loss of the Tennessee Titans (7-7) against the Los Angeles Chargers (8- 6).
The Chargers fully slipped into the playoff bracket as the sixth seed after 15 days; one position above the Miami Dolphins (8-6), who woke up in seventh place on Monday.
Las Vegas Raiders (6-8), Cleveland Browns (6-8) and even Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8), are still in competition, with distant and almost miraculous aspirations, but mathematically they are alive.
The only ones already out are the Houston Texans (1-12-1) and the Denver Broncos (4-10).
4.- THEY ARE CLOSER TO THE FIRST GOAL
In Week 16, the penultimate of the regular season, other teams could advance to the “tournament”. The Baltimore Ravens (9-5) with a win and loss to the New York Jets (7-7) or a loss to the Patriots (7-7). The Bengals (10-4) clinch the ticket with a win or loss to the Jets or New England.
The Bills will be champions of the American East Division if they win or tie, or the Miami Dolphins lose or tie.
In the National Conference, the surprising Giants close their pass with a victory over the Vikings, added to defeats by Detroit and Seattle or the Commanders. And the other possibility is that Seattle and Washington win and lose.