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Bills at Dolphins: The Final Showdown for AFC East Supremacy

Bills at Dolphins: Who will win in this AFC East matchup?

Everything is on the line in this AFC East matchup. Democrat and Chronicle’s Sal Maiorana explains how Buffalo is preparing for this game.

The NFL’s 2023 regular season will reach its conclusion today, game No. 272 – the Buffalo Bills’ visit to the Miami Dolphins on “Sunday Night Football” – to determine the AFC East title while finalizing the conference’s playoff bracket. Before that occurs, the AFC South champion will also be determined while the Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Jacksonville Jaguars vie for two remaining playoff berths.

On the NFC side, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are both postseason-bound, though it’s not yet known which team will reign over the NFC East. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons could all win the NFC South, while the Saints, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings are in play for the conference’s final wild-card berth.

Follow along here throughout the day as we update the brackets in real-time while dropping in news and analytical updates that signal how the final 14-team field could ultimately coalesce.

More playoff turnover

With the Browns, Lions, Rams and Texans all qualifying for postseason, the NFL has now turned its field over by at least four teams from the previous year every season going back to 1990 − when the bracket expanded to 12 teams (and later 14 in 2020). This season’s figure could still grow with the Steelers, Packers, Saints and others still jockeying for spots.

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

AFC playoff picture

yz – 1. Baltimore Ravens (13-4), AFC North champions: They brought home the division crown, conference first-round bye and home-field advantage by pummeling Miami in Week 17 … meaning the only objective Saturday against Pittsburgh was to avoid major injuries. Mission seemingly accomplished for resting QB Lamar Jackson and Co. Remaining schedule: will face lowest-seeded remaining AFC playoff team in divisional round of playoffs

x – 2. Miami Dolphins (11-5), AFC East leaders: They saw their hopes for home-field advantage go up in a massive cloud of smoke last weekend in Baltimore. Lose Sunday, and the Dolphins likely won’t be playing any postseason home games as such a defeat would confer the division title to Buffalo. Remaining schedule: vs. Bills

y – 3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6), AFC West champions: It took longer than usual, but they secured their eighth consecutive division crown while locking into the third seed. Their Week 17 victory also eliminated the Bengals and Broncos. Remaining schedule: at Chargers

x – 4. Houston Texans (10-7), AFC South leaders: Rookie QB C.J. Stroud and Co. survived in Indianapolis on Saturday night to clinch a berth, their first since 2019. Houston upgrades to AFC South champions if the Jaguars lose in Nashville on Sunday. The Texans’ win eliminated Indianapolis. Remaining schedule: TBD

x – 5. Cleveland Browns (11-5), wild card No. 1: They’ve now won four in a row, enough to graduate to postseason for the third time since their 1999 rebirth. However Baltimore’s Week 17 victory locked the Dawg Pound into the fifth seed and a wild-card round visit to the AFC South champions. Remaining schedule: at Bengals

6. Buffalo Bills (10-6), wild card No. 2: They’ve got pretty much everything they wanted – meaning end the regular season on a five-game winning streak Sunday night in Miami, and Buffalo will have resurrected itself into AFC East champions … again. They’ll know before kickoff what’s truly at stake, as a Jacksonville loss would lock them into the field. However a Jags victory makes Sunday night must-win for Buffalo. Remaining schedule: at Dolphins

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7), wild card No. 3: They took care of business Saturday in suboptimal weather conditions in Baltimore, beating the top-seeded Ravens and hoping they’ll get the requisite help – namely a loss by the Bills or Jaguars on Sunday – to qualify as a wild card. Remaining schedule: TBD

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7), out of playoff field: Much-needed win over hapless Carolina means the Jags are one win from repeating as AFC South champions. However Pittsburgh’s win Saturday means Jacksonville can no longer back into field as a wild card. Remaining schedule: at Titans

NFC playoff picture

yz – 1. San Francisco 49ers (12-4), NFC West champions: They won last weekend, while the Eagles and Lions didn’t – meaning the Niners won’t be leaving the Bay Area for another football game … unless they reach Super Bowl 58. Remaining schedule: vs. Rams

x – 2. Dallas Cowboys (11-5), NFC East leaders: They extended their winning streak at AT&T Stadium to 16 games by virtue of a dubious win over Detroit in Week 17. But “America’s Team” reclaimed first place in the division thanks to Philly’s loss and a better record (8-3) in conference games. Beat Washington on Sunday, and the NFC East’s run of non-consecutive champions since 2005 will extend another year as the Cowboys would dethrone the Eagles. Remaining schedule: at Commanders

y – 3. Detroit Lions (11-5), NFC North champions: They went for the win in Dallas, and came up short … apparently. Looking more like they’ll be welcoming Rams QB Matthew Stafford home in a few weeks as Lions can’t be worse than third seed. Remaining schedule: vs. Vikings

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8), NFC South leaders: They came up short against New Orleans, Tampa’s four-game winning streak halted in Week 17. But Bucs can still earn third straight division crown by beating Carolina in Week 18. Otherwise? Lose and Tampa Bay goes home, barring ties. Remaining schedule: at Panthers

x – 5. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5), wild card No. 1: Shocking loss to Arizona puts exclamation point on reigning NFC champs’ late-season meltdown. They need a win Sunday plus a Dallas loss to retain NFC East throne. Remaining schedule: at Giants

x – 6. Los Angeles Rams (9-7), wild card No. 2: They narrowly escaped the Giants in Week 17. But they got a gift after the win, the Steelers’ defeat of the Seahawks buckling LA into a wild-card spot. Rams would drop to seventh seed if they wind up tied at 9-8 with Pack. Remaining schedule: at 49ers

7. Green Bay Packers (8-8), wild card No. 3: Seattle’s Week 17 loss opened the door to a wild card. Beat Chicago on Sunday, and the Pack are postseason-bound – partially due to a strength-of-victory tiebreaker advantage on the Seahawks. Remaining schedule: vs. Bears

8. Seattand the Seahawks (8-8), out of playoff field: Major loss to Steelers, but they can get back into the field with a Week 18 win and Green Bay loss. Remaining schedule: at Cardinals

9. New Orleans Saints (8-8), out of playoff field: Crucial win at Tampa on Sunday keeps them alive for division title – win this Sunday plus a Bucs loss – or wild card. Remaining schedule: vs. Falcons

10. Minnesota Vikings (7-9), out of playoff field: Still a remote shot at postseason despite getting blown out by Green Bay last weekend. Vikes need to win at Ford Field, hope the Packers and Seahawks lose and need the Falcons to win the NFC South. Remaining schedule: at Lions

(Note: The Chicago Bears are in 11th place overall in the NFC standings but have been eliminated from playoff contention.)

12. Atlanta Falcons (7-9), out of playoff field: Still a faint heartbeat for the NFC South championship after three losses in four weeks. They’d need to beat New Orleans and hope the Bucs lose at Carolina. Remaining schedule: at Saints

x – clinched playoff berth

y – clinched division title

z – clinched first-round bye and home-field advantage

NFL playoff clinching scenarios entering Week 18

Buffalo clinches AFC East division title with:

BUF win

Buffalo clinches playoff berth with:

BUF tie ORJAX loss or tie

Houston clinches AFC South division title with:

JAX loss or tie

​Jacksonville clinches AFC South division title with:

JAX win

Miami clinches AFC East division title with:

MIA win or tie

Pittsburgh clinches playoff berth with:

BUF loss ORJAX loss or tie

Atlanta clinches NFC South division title with:

ATL win + TB loss

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:

DAL win ORDAL tie + PHI tie ORPHI loose

Green Bay clinches playoff berth with:

GB win ORGB tie + SEA loss or tie + NO loss or tie ORGB tie + SEA loss + TB loss ORGB tie + SEA tie + TB loss or tie ORMIN loss or tie + SEA loss + TB loss ORMIN loss or tie + SEA loss + NO loss

Minnesota clinches playoff berth with:

MIN win + GB loss + SEA loss + TB loss ORMIN win + GB loss + SEA loss + NO loss

New Orleans clinches NFC South division title with:

NO win + TB loss or tie ORNO tie + TB loss

New Orleans clinches playoff berth with:

NO win + SEA loss or tie + GB loss or tie ORNO tie + SEA loss + GB loss

Philadelphia clinches NFC East division title with:

PHI win + DAL loss or tie ORPHI tie + DAL loss

Seattle clinches playoff berth with:

SEA win + GB loss or tie ORSEA tie + GB loss + TB loss or tie ORSEA tie + GB loss + NO loss or tie

Tampa Bay clinches NFC South division title with:

TB win ORTB tie + NO loss or tie

Tampa Bay clinches playoff berth with:

TB tie + SEA loss + GB loss or tie

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on X, formerly Twitter @ByNateDavis.


2024-01-07 18:14:48
#Live #updates #field #stands #Sunday

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