2021 NFL Playoff Picture, Standings: Packers can clinch playoff berth on Sunday Night Football vs. Bears


The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are set to face off in an NFC North matchup that has important implications on the NFL playoff picture. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. The match-up will also be available via live stream on Peacock.

The 4-8 Bears occupy the third spot in the NFC North while the Packers own the No. 2 seed in the NFC. After winning seven straight games between Weeks 2-8, Green Bay has two losses in its last four matchups. This week, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are hosting the Bears in the second of their twice-annual meetings.

There is a long and storied rivalry between the Packers and Bears that, despite the mismatched records of both teams this season, continues on year after year. The last time both teams met nearly two months ago, Rodgers yelled, “I own you” in the direction of Bears fans at Soldier Field. Rodgers’ utterance will be put the test on Sunday night. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who missed the last two games with a rib injury, is set to make his debut at Lambeau Field.

NBC News political correspondent Steve Kornacki makes his return to Football Night in America this week to trade election result breakdowns for NFL playoff picture scenarios. Kornacki will join the show for the remainder of the regular season and will be a part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13.

Let’s take a closer look at the NFL playoff picture in the NFC and AFC.

RELATED: How to watch Bears vs. Packers: Live stream, TV channel, kickoff time for Sunday

Week 14 Clinching Scenario for Green Bay

The Packers could punch their ticket to the playoffs on Sunday night but they are going to need some help from other teams. Below is the scenario in which Green Bay can punch its ticket to the playoffs:

  • Because Minnesota won Thursday, Green Bay can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a 49ers loss (at CIN) and a Saints loss or tie (at NYJ).

2021 NFC Playoff Picture:

The NFC is a top-heavy conference and, as a result, every game has the potential to define the NFL playoff picture.

Entering Week 14, the Arizona Cardinals lead the conference with a 10-2 record. Last week, star QB Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins returned to the field after being sidelined with injuries. The Cardinals have been strong on both sides of the ball as Arizona’s defense is allowing an NFC-best 17.4 points per game. Of their 10 wins, only two have been one-score games. The Cardinals have an important test on Monday night when they take on the Los Angeles Rams, but their schedule gets easier moving forward.

The Packers, as noted above, are the No. 2 seed in the NFC entering Week 14. Green Bay has the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league. While the Packers are one game behind the Cardinals, they do own the tiebreaker between the two teams because Green Bay defeated Arizona, 24-21, in Week 8.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers occupy the No. 3 seed in the conference. After a two-game losing streak midseason, the Bucs have now won three straight contests. With a victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13, the Bucs improved to six games over .500. Tampa Bay has just one game remaining against a team with a winning record, making its path to the NFC South crown almost a guarantee.

The 8-4 Dallas Cowboys have the No. 4 seed in the NFC. After dropping two straight games, Dallas bounced back with a win over the New Orleans Saints last week. The win came amongst a COVID-19 outbreak on the team in which five coaches, including head coach Mike McCarthy, and two players were absent. The Cowboys’ biggest challenge up ahead is likely to be two games against the surging Washington Football Team.

The Los Angeles Rams round out the top five teams in the NFC. After three straight losses, the Rams got back on the winning track with a dominating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. The Cardinals have a strong hold of the NFC West, but the Rams are well positioned for a wild-card spot.

Seven teams in the NFC are within one game of each other in the win column in the fight for the final two wild-card positions.

RELATED: 2021 Sunday Night Football schedule: NFL live streams, how to watch on TV, channel, kickoff times

2021 AFC Playoff Picture:

Entering Week 14, nine teams in the AFC have six or seven victories, meaning the playoff race is both crowded and up for grabs.

In one of the biggest games of the season thus far, the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills, 14-10, to extend their winning streak to seven straight games and improve to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Patriots’ win on Monday night became an instant classic seemingly because of its lack of action. Mac Jones and the Patriots had just three pass attempts, the second-fewest for a team during the Super Bowl era.

The Tennessee Titans occupy the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Titans took a two-game losing streak into their bye week last week but remain in strong playoff positioning thanks to some help from other teams. The final stretch of the Titans’ season includes just one game against an opponent with a winning record.

With Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens were knocked out of the AFC’s top spot and are now ranked No. 3 in the conference. Baltimore now has just a one game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North and it faces a difficult schedule up ahead. Over the next five games, the Ravens are set to play four teams that have winning records and one that is .500.

The Kansas City Chiefs have the No. 4 seed in the AFC and are riding a four-game winning streak. With the help of their bolstered defense, the Chiefs put together a double-digit victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Kansas City is one game ahead in the AFC West and just a half-game behind the Patriots in the race for home-field advantage.

In a battle between two of the league’s top young QB’s last week, Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers defeated Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in commanding fashion, 41-22, to maintain the No. 5 seed in the AFC. The Chargers have been inconsistent recently, dropping three of their last six contests, but still have a strong chance to make the playoffs.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL playoffs start: Dates, schedule, TV channels, live streams, format

Week 14 Picks and Power Rankings

Mike Florio and the team at ProFootballTalk have broken down their picks and power rankings for Week 14. They have Kyler Murray and the 10-2 Cardinals at the top of the list. Click here to see where the rest of the league falls as the playoff race tightens.

Current 2021 NFL Playoff picture

2021 AFC Standings

New England Patriots (9-4)

Tennessee Titans (9-4)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)

Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)

Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Buffalo Bills (7-6)

On the bubble:

Cleveland Browns (7-6)

Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

Denver Broncos (7-6)

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1)

Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)

2021 NFC Standings

Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Dallas Cowboys (9-4)

Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

San Francisco 49ers (7-6)

Washington Football Team (6-7)

On the bubble:

Minnesota Vikings (6-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Atlanta Falcons (6-7)

New Orleans Saints (6-7)

Carolina Panthers (6-7)

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