1. Cardinals (13-2) (3): The Cardinals are peaking at the right time, and they’ve still got a shot at the No. 1 seed. Carson Palmer is very much in the conversation for MVP honors, as well as Comeback Player of the Year.
2. Panthers (14-1) (1): The Panthers couldn’t lock up the No. 1 seed, although that may be beneficial in the long run. Ron Rivera is expected to play to win in the regular-season finale in Tampa, meaning there won’t be an extended layoff in advance of their first playoff game following a bye week.
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3. Patriots (12-3) (2): It’s saying something when Bill Belichick doesn’t have enough faith in his offense to take the first possession in overtime. The decision backfires as the Patriots’ defense allows Ryan Fitzpatrick to go 80 yards for the winning touchdown on the Jets’ opening possession of OT. This is one banged-up team right now, and Belichick seems content to play out the string and get his key players — particularly wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman — back for the playoffs.
4. Broncos (11-4) (8): Huge win for Brock Osweiler, who leads the Broncos back from a 14-point deficit, clinches a playoff spot, and assures he will remain the Broncos’ starter. Which means Peyton Manning has probably thrown his last pass in a Denver uniform. Or any uniform, for that matter.
5. Chiefs (10-5) (9): Andy Reid might singlehandedly eliminate “the dab” as a cool celebration after the Chiefs’ coach celebrated his team’s playoff berth. But so what. Reid deserved to get crazy after leading his team to a ninth straight win and a spot in the playoffs.
6. Seahawks (9-6) (4): Russell Wilson finally throws an interception, but it’s the absence of injured tailback Marshawn Lynch that really showed in a 23-17 home loss to the Rams. The Seahawks fail to rush for at least 100 yards for the first time in 25 games.
7. Packers (10-5) (5): Injuries to the offensive line had Aaron Rodgers on the run all day, and the Packers were mauled by the Cardinals on the road. They play for the division — and, more importantly, a home playoff game, next Sunday night at Lambeau against Minnesota.
8. Jets (10-5) (10): How delicious would it be for the Jets to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Rex Ryan’s Bills on Sunday? But that’s not the only revenge aspect here; Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey can show the Bills what they’re missing if the former Buffalo quarterback and head coach get the win. The Jets have won five straight and could be a dangerous playoff foe if they get into the tournament.
9. Vikings (10-5) (11): Teddy Bridgewater picks apart the Giants, and Mike Zimmer’s defense does a number on Eli Manning (three interceptions, including a pick-six) as the Vikings clinch a playoff berth. They can win the division by beating the Packers on the road Sunday night.
10. Bengals (11-4) (7): A.J. McCarron is solid early, but can’t contend with Denver’s defense by the end of an overtime loss to the Broncos. He fumbles away a snap in OT and loses a game with huge stakes at Mile High.
11. Redskins (8-7) (12): Kirk Cousins might be the NFL’s most improved player. His exceptional performance in recent weeks has given Washington a rare divisional title, and Cousins will earn a pile of money in the offseason when his contract is up. It’s hard to see Cousins not stay in Washington after all the fine work Jay Gruden has done with his quarterback.
12. Steelers (9-6) (6): The Steelers come up small at just the wrong time, as they’re beaten on the road by a Ravens team that has been out of the playoff hunt for weeks and a quarterback who was out of the league until the Ravens came calling last week. Pittsburgh is still in contention for a wild-card spot, but they no longer control their own destiny.
13. Falcons (8-7) (17): The Falcons may have ruined a 5-0 start with some brutal football through the midway portion of the season, but they do get to ruin divisional rival Carolina’s bid for a perfect season. Julio Jones makes the play of the game with a 70-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
14. Texans (8-7) (13): Brandon Weeden gets his first win in more than three years, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Texans, who roll it up on the road in Tennessee and are one step closer to the AFC South title.
15. Bills (7-8) (16): Rex Ryan said after beating the Jets last month that the rematch in the regular-season finale might determine who goes to the playoffs. Well, he was half right; the Jets can get to the playoffs by beating the Bills, who are out of contention.
16. Raiders (7-8) (19): The Raiders give their fans what could be a going-away present with a 23-20 overtime win against the Chargers. The Raiders could be headed for Los Angeles next season, where they may join forces with the Chargers on a new stadium.
17. Saints (6-9) (21): Drew Brees played on an injured right foot but still went wild against the Jaguars’ defense, throwing for 412 yards and three TDs.
18. Eagles (6-9) (15): It’s official: Chip Kelly’s massive overhaul of the Eagles’ roster was a massive failure. The Eagles were officially eliminated from contention in the NFC East with another humiliating home loss, this one to the Redskins, as Kirk Cousins carved up the Eagles’ woeful defense.
19. Lions (6-9) (18): The Lions have gained some measure of respectability after a brutal start. But massive changes may still loom for the organization, both on and off the field.
20. Colts (7-8) (22): Matt Hasselbeck is completely beaten up, but he was able to do enough to set the table for a home win over the Dolphins to keep Indy’s divisional hopes barely alive.
21. Rams (6-9) (24): If nothing else, the Rams have the Seahawks’ number. That’s a season sweep of the defending NFC champs for the Rams against Seattle.
22. Bears (6-9) (23): At least there is this: The mediocre Bears are better than the mediocre Buccaneers.
23. Ravens (5-10) (30): Say this much for John Harbaugh: He has his team playing hard even though the playoffs are long gone and even though his injury-ravaged roster is decimated. Ryan Mallett gets the win in a game that may knock the Steelers out of the playoff chase.
24. Giants (6-9) (14): After a fourth straight year with no playoffs, this could be it for Tom Coughlin.
25. Buccaneers (6-9) (20): Lovie Smith loses to his former Bears team at home, as the Bucs limp toward the finish line and hope to regroup for an improved effort next year with a more experienced Jameis Winston.
26. Jaguars (5-10) (26): Blake Bortles goes toe-to-toe with Drew Brees, but his four touchdown passes still aren’t enough.
27. Chargers (4-11) (25): That’s seven straight divisional losses for the Bolts.
28. Cowboys (4-11) (27): Cowboys find out that Kellen Moore is no better than any of the other backups they’ve tried this year. It’s Tony Romo or bust in 2016.
29. 49ers (4-11) (28): Blaine Gabbert gets a vote of confidence from coach Jim Tomsula. Then again, it may not matter because there’s no guarantee Tomsula will get a vote of confidence for next year.
30. Dolphins (5-10) (29): Ryan Tannehill with another weak effort against an inferior Colts defense. Dolphins just playing out the string for interim coach Dan Campbell.
31. Browns (3-12) (31): Same old, same old for Browns. They lose a game and Johnny Manziel surfaces in another video showing the quarterback partying. He’ll have another talking-to from coach Mike Pettine.
32. Titans (3-12) (32): Talk about hitting rock bottom. The Titans are embarrassed at home, 34-6, by Texans quarterback Brandon Weeden, who hadn’t won a game in more than three years.