At halftime of the Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants Week 14 Monday Night Football tilt, Chris Berman pushed back against those that have suggested it's unfair that the winner of the lowly NFC East will get to host a playoff game, which will likely be against whichever of the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers doesn't win the NFC West.
Berman's point essentially was that if a 12-win Wild Card team isn't able to go into Dallas or Philadelphia and win on Wild Card Weekend, a Super Bowl run probably wasn't in the cards anyway.
While that's true in a sense, it doesn't change the optics of a seven-win team hosting a team that has the second or third best record in their conference but is stuck playing on Wild Card Weekend because of the division they happen to play in.
Ultimately, though, it appears those in Berman's camp are going to win out. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the NFL hasn't considered changing the structure of the postseason, whether that were to mean seeding based on best records or a division winner needing to win a certain amount of games to get to host a playoff game.
So, not only will whatever team wins the NFC East get to host a playoff game in 2019 - even if they don't finish with a winning record - but that precedent will likely stay in place for the future, making winning your division that much more important.
With division and conference races starting to come into focus, here are the RADIO.COM NFL Power Rankings ahead of Week 15 of the 2019 NFL season:
1. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: No. 1)
In what amounts to a quiet week for Lamar Jackson, he threw for three touchdowns and added in 40 rushing yards on the road against a Bills team that has won nine games in 2019. With the Patriots having lost three of five, the AFC playoffs appear all-but certain to run through Baltimore.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: No. 3)
In perhaps the best game of the 2019 regular season, Jimmy Garoppolo tossed four touchdowns and set the 49ers up to kick the game-winning field goal in New Orleans. The 49ers are on track to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but even if they don't, they're the type of team that could win a playoff game in a tough environment.
3. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: No. 4)
How much can you fault the Saints for losing a 48-46 game? Drew Brees had one of the best games of his career, throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for another. His thumb injury, which cost him nearly six games, may have actually been a blessing in disguise, because at 40, he looks extremely fresh heading towards the playoffs. Even after losing to the 49ers, the Saints are still very much in the race for a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
4. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: No. 6)
After taking a 14-0 lead over the Washington Redskins in Week 14, the Packers took their collective foot off the gas pedal and ultimately won by just five points. But, a win is a win. The Packers are 10-3, in the mix for a first-round postseason bye and among the teams in the NFC that could theoretically make a Super Bowl run.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: No. 9)
You know about the Hall of Fame-caliber talent of Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the creativity of head coach Andy Reid. But, what should be scary to teams in the AFC is that over the last three games, the Chiefs' defense has limited opponents to just 14 points per game, nearly 10 points less than they did through their first 10 games of the season. The Chiefs - especially if they are able to usurp the New England Patriots for the No. 2 seed in the AFC - probably pose the biggest threat to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC.
6. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: No. 2)
A week ago, it appeared that the Seahawks were starting to separate themselves from the pack in the NFC after a Monday Night Football win over the Minnesota Vikings. Week 14 wasn't a fruitful one for Seattle, though, as they lost on Sunday Night Football to the Los Angeles Rams, hours after the division-rival San Francisco 49ers won the game of the season in New Orleans. The Seahawks are in danger of having to go on the road for the NFC playoffs.
7. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: No. 8)
In Week 14, the Vikings defeated a Detroit Lions team that looks ready for the offseason, 20-7. Rather quietly, the Vikings are 9-4, as they prepare for a trip to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. Their Week 16 Monday Night Football matchup against the Green Bay Packers - which will take place in Minnesota - could very well decide the NFC North. Winning the NFC North may come with a bye in the first round of the NFC playoffs, as opposed to a Wild Card spot, which would mean going on the road in the first week of the postseason.
8. New England Patriots (Last Week: No. 5)
No one wants to be the one that sticks the fork in the Patriots. However, after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, they find themselves clinging onto the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and therefore on the cusp of losing a first-round bye. The Patriots have lost three of their last five games, with all three losses coming to probable AFC playoff teams. They're averaging just 15.4 points-per-game over that timespan. Again, we won't sit here and say a playoff run isn't going to happen, but it doesn't feel like there's a switch that the Patriots can flip right now.
9. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: No. 10)
With a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills missed a chance to pull even (record-wise at least) with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East. Still, at 9-4, they find themselves in control of the top Wild Card spot in the AFC. If they defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15, that would all-but assure they win one of the two Wild Card spots.
10. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: No. 12)
Ryan Tannehill responded to a pregame report that the Titans are weighing potentially offering him a long-term contract by leading the team to their fourth consecutive win, and sixth in the last seven games. The Titans shouldn't forget about the two AFC Wild Card slots, but with two of their last three games against the Houston Texans, their focus should be on winning the AFC South.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: No. 11)
In a game that could ultimately decide their playoff fate - or which seed they have in the playoffs - the Steelers will host the 9-4 Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football in Week 14. The Bills currently control the top Wild Card spot in the AFC, while the Steelers find themselves ahead of the Tennessee Titans for the second spot. ESPN's Adam Schefter says that star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is hoping to return for what may be the biggest game of the Steelers' season.
12. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: No. 13)
While the Rams may have altered the NFC playoff picture with their Sunday Night Football win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, they still find themselves on the outside looking in for the postseason. At 8-5, Jared Goff and company need one of the 9-4 Minnesota Vikings or 10-3 Green Bay Packers to collapse in the final three weeks of the regular season, opening up a lane for them to sneak into the playoffs as the final Wild Card team.
13. Houston Texans (Last Week: No. 7)
After defeating the New England Patriots in Week 13, the Texans had a let-down in Week 14, as they were blown out at home by a Denver Broncos team that entered the game with just one road win. With the loss, the Texans fell to 8-5, now even record wise with the Tennessee Titans, who they will see two times in the final four weeks of the regular season.
14. Chicago Bears (Last Week: No. 17)
So, uh, don't look now, but the Bears have won three games in a row and are 7-6. In a crowded NFC playoff picture, it's still very unlikely they are able to sneak into the postseason. That said, Mitchell Trubisky has six touchdown passes in his last two games. It feels like things are trending in the direction of him returning as the starting quarterback for the final season of his rookie contract, something Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio has said is the most likely outcome for much of the season.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: No. 18)
Even against a Giants team that hasn't won a game since September, there's something to be said for the comeback that Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz led in the Eagles' Week 14 victory. Once the excitement from that game subsides, though, the Eagles will still have less than five healthy receivers on their roster, and could be forced to play the rest of the season without right tackle Lane Johnson and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, both of whom were injured in Week 14.
16. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: No. 15)
Even after losing to the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys still have a very clear path to the NFC East crown - win their final three games. But whether they edge the Philadelphia Eagles out or not increasingly feels insignificant. When Jerry Jones has to confirm that the Cowboys haven't talked to potential replacements for Jason Garrett while Garrett is still coaching the team, it's clear major changes are coming.
17. Oakland Raiders (Last Week: No. 16)
Overshadowed by the NFC East debacle is that Jon Gruden's Raiders have collapsed down the stretch of their final season in Oakland. After an unlikely 6-4 start, the Raiders have lost three games in a row. Over that timespan, they've given up 39 points per game. The Raiders would have signed up for a chance to finish the season with seven or eight wins at the outset of the season. But the path they've taken to get there leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: No. 19)
Considering this is his fifth season, Jameis Winston probably is what he is at this point. The Buccaneers are 3-1 over their last four games, with Winston averaging 337.5 yards per game. But while Winston has thrown nine touchdowns in the Buccaneers' last four games, he's also been picked off nine times. He leads the league with 23 interceptions. Whether the Buccaneers think they can upgrade from Winston this offseason will be one of the more interesting storylines. Would someone like Teddy Bridgewater - who probably doesn't have the same ceiling as Winston, but isn't going to turn the ball over - lead to more team success?
19. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: No. 14)
Since an improbable 5-2 start, the Colts are just 1-5, as injuries have killed a once-promising season. Jacoby Brissett has tossed 18 touchdowns to just six interceptions in 2019, and the Colts are 6-6 in games he has started. With Brissett under contract for 2020, it seems unlikely that the Colts will seriously consider any of the veteran options likely to be available this offseason. They may, however, draft a quarterback relatively early in the 2020 NFL Draft, assuming they believe Andrew Luck plans to stay retired.
20. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: No. 21)
Nick Chubb ran for 106 yards in Week 14 as the Browns beat a one-win Cincinnati Bengals team, but the weekend still left you with a bad feeling from a Browns perspective. There are indications that Odell Beckham Jr. may prefer to be moved after this season. Baker Mayfield tossed two more interceptions, and now has 16 on the season. As the Baltimore Ravens trend towards the No. 1 seed, and the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers close in on a playoff spot, Freddie Kitchens feels likely to be fired at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.
21. Denver Broncos (Last Week: No. 24)
After rookie quarterback Drew Lock tossed three touchdowns in an upset win in Houston, Broncos' icon Von Miller referred to him as a "f------ rockstar." In the first two starts of his NFL career, Lock, a 2019 second-round pick, has led the Broncos to two wins and thrown five touchdown passes. He's probably already done enough to enter 2020 as the team's starting quarterback.
22. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: No. 26)
It's a shame that a very disappointing season has overshadowed how productive Austin Ekeler has been in 2019 for the Chargers. In the Chargers' Week 14 blowout win in Jacksonville, Ekeler topped both 100 rushing and receiving yards. On the season, the 24-year-old has averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry, tallied 830 receiving yards and found the endzone 11 times. Unfortunately for him, the Chargers, who entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, are tied for last place in the AFC West.
23. New York Jets (Last Week: No. 27)
The Jets have actually won four of five games, though that stretch does still feel watered down by a 22-6 loss to the previously-winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. More important than winning games in a lost season is that Sam Darnold has hit his stride in the last five games, as he has tossed nine touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions. As ESPN's Rich Cimini noted, he has a big test to finish out the season, as the Jets' final three games are against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.
24. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: No. 23)
For as competitive as the Cardinals have been at times in 2019, they have now lost six consecutive games. If they aren't able to beat the Cleveland Browns at home this week, it's possible they'll lose out, as their final two games are on the road against the division-rival Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
25. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: No. 28)
The Falcons won their third games in their last five contests in Week 14, blowing out the division-rival Carolina Panthers. It's probably too late to save Dan Quinn's job, though. The Falcons are 4-9, and will play in San Francisco this week. Sometimes it's just time for change.
26. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: No. 20)
The Panthers went from a team on the fringes of the NFC playoff race to an organization in disarray rather quickly. The organization parted ways with long-time head coach Ron Rivera after an ugly Week 13 loss to the Washington Redskins. That didn't stop them from getting blown out by the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14, their fifth consecutive loss.
27. Detroit Lions (Last Week: No. 22)
Since a surprise 2-0-1 start, the Lions have lost nine of their last 10 games. Certainly, they've been hurt by the fact that quarterback Matthew Stafford has been sideline with a back injury since Week 9. But head coach Matt Patricia is a defensive mind, and his defense is the 29th ranked unit in the NFL. It appears things could be trending towards the Lions having to weigh a change at head coach at the conclusion of the season. One would think they wouldn't want to move on from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who seemed to have good chemistry with Stafford prior to his injury.
28. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: No. 30)
While a pass interference review that set the New York Jets up to kick the game-winning field goal over the Dolphins in Week 14 infuriated head coach Brian Flores, in the long-run, losing that close game will prove to be beneficial to his tenure. It's clear that a roster designed to go 0-16 has bought into Flores. Ultimately, though, his tenure is going to be judged based on whether the Dolphins are able to draft franchise-altering talents, not whether he wins an extra game or not in 2019.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: No. 25)
After a 45-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14, it appears that the Jaguars are headed towards an organizational overhaul, one much larger than deciding whether to move forward with Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew II at quarterback.
30. Washington Redskins (Last Week: No. 29)
Following the best game of his career in Week 13, running back Derrius Guice suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee in the team's Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The rate at which Guice has gotten injured in his two years in the Redskins' organization makes it hard to plan for a future with him as a core piece. It also may leave rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins with Adrian Peterson, perhaps in the waning games of his career, as his lead back to finish out the season.
31. New York Giants (Last Week: No. 31)
After blowing a 17-3 lead in Philadelphia in Week 14, the Giants still haven't won a game since late September. At this point, it's probably in their best long-term interests not to win another game. If we assume that the Cincinnati Bengals are likely to take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, the Giants could end up with the best overall player in the draft, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. That is, if they don't win a meaningless game or two before the end of the season.
32. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: No. 32)
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 349 yards and tossed four touchdowns in a 37-10 win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Burrow, 22, finished the regular season with 48 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. While the feeling here is that a healthy Tua Tagovailoa would be the best quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft, Burrow is actually healthy and looks ready to lead an NFL franchise like the Bengals. He's also from Ohio, so at least in a relative geographical sense, he's a good fit for Cincinnati.