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The Redzone: Crunch time nears for NFL teams

Just three weekends of regular season action remain in the NFL. Steven O’Rourke has your guide to who needs to do what to make the playoffs.

Both Matt Forte (left) and Adrian Peterson could miss out on the playoffs this year.
Both Matt Forte (left) and Adrian Peterson could miss out on the playoffs this year.
Image: Genevieve Ross/AP/Press Association Images

IF YOU WANT an idea of just how good Adrian Peterson has been for the Minnesota Vikings this season then look no further than the fact he averages more yards per rush (6.04) than his quarterback, Christian Ponder, averages per pass attempts (5.99 yards).

Indeed, according to the NFL’s own statistics, Peterson has more rushing yards in his last seven games (1,101) than four teams – the Jaguars (1,068), Raiders (1,055), Cowboys (1,038) and Cardinals (1,021) – have all season.

And yet, despite how well Peterson has played, the Vikings will probably miss out on the playoffs this season. However, a number of other teams could clinch a postseason berth this weekend and, below, you’ll find out exactly what they need to do it.

AFC

ELIMINATED:
Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans

CLINCHED:
AFC East – New England Patriots
AFC West – Denver Broncos
Playoff spot – Houston Texans

WHAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND:
AFC North – Baltimore can clinch the division with A) a win, B) a tie and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals both tie or lose or C) Steelers and Bengals both lose

AFC South – The Houston Texans clinch the division with a win over the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. They will also secure a first-round bye if the Denver Broncos lose to the Ravens and the New England Patriots tie with or lose to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Colts can also secure a playoff spot if they beat the Texans. However, a tie would suffice if either the Steelers or Bengals lose or tie or if the Ravens win. They could still make the postseason with a loss, provided both the Jets and Bengals lost.

NFC

ELIMINATED:
Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles

CLINCHED:
NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

WHAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND:
NFC North – The Green Bay Packers will win the division if they beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday. A tie would not be enough to claim the NFC North but it may be enough to secure a playoff spot for the Packers if a number of other teams including the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins slip up.

NFC West – The San Francisco 49ers will win the division if they beat the Patriots on the road and the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Buffalo Bills. A win would also be enough to see the 49ers secure a playoff spot, as would a tie if the Cowboys, Redskins and Vikings all fail to win.

NFC South – The Falcons have already secured a playoff spot and the divisional title but will guarantee a first round bye with a win over the Giants and either a loss for either the 49ers or Packers.

Week 15 fixtures and predictions:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles – Bengals by 5
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons – Giants by 3
Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens – Broncos by 3
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears – Packers by 5
Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns – Browns by 5
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – Texans by 8
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins – Dolphins by 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints – Saints by 5
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams – Rams by 3
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals – Lions by 5
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills – Seahawks by 8
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers – Panthers by 3
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys – Cowboys by 3
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders – Raiders by 5
San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots – Patriots by 7
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans – Jets by 3

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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