Here’s an updated look at the NFL playoff picture entering Week 12:
1. New England Patriots (9-1; AFC East leader)
2. Baltimore Ravens (8-2; AFC North leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4; AFC West leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-4; AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills (7-3; first wild card)
6. Houston Texans (6-4; second wild card)
In the hunt: Oakland Raiders (6-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5), Tennessee Titans (5-5), Cleveland Browns (4-6)
Long shots: Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6), Los Angeles Chargers (4-7), Denver Broncos (3-7), New York Jets (3-7), Miami Dolphins (2-8), Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
1. San Francisco 49ers (9-1; NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers (8-2; NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints (8-2; NFC South leader)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-4; NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-2; first wild card)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3; second wild card)
In the hunt: Los Angeles Rams (6-4), Philadelphia Eagles (5-5), Carolina Panthers (5-5)
Long shots: Chicago Bears (4-6), Detroit Lions (3-6-1), Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1), Atlanta Falcons (3-7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7), New York Giants (2-8), Washington Redskins (1-9)
— Before the Patriots maintained their narrow edge over the Ravens with a hard-fought 17-10 win in Philadelphia, they saw Baltimore dump-truck the Texans 41-7 in what was expected to be a tight contest between two of the NFL’s most exciting young quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson and Co. have looked like a juggernaut of late, outscoring their last four opponents by an average of 25.3 points per game.
— Philip Rivers’ late interception Monday night allowed the Chiefs to leave Mexico City with a 24-17 victory. A loss would have dropped them out of the playoff picture in the AFC. Instead, they actually moved up a spot, vaulting into third place behind the Patriots and Ravens. The upstart Raiders are hot on their heels, though. Jon Gruden’s club trails KC by just a half-game in the AFC West after beating the winless Bengals on Sunday.
— Big AFC South matchup this Thursday night: Colts at Texans. Indy got Jacoby Brissett back from injury this past weekend and blew past the Jags 33-13 to take over first place in that division. The idle Titans, who will play the Colts once and the Texans twice over the final six weeks, are squarely in the mix there, too.
— The NFC playoff scene remained unchanged with the 49ers, Saints, Cowboys and Vikings all winning and the Packers and Seahawks on their byes.
— The Cowboys’ six wins have come against teams with a combined record of 11-38-1. They’re 0-3 against teams currently in playoff position (Packers, Saints, Vikings) and barely held off Jeff Driskel and the Lions on Sunday, winning 35-27 in Detroit. Next up: a trip to Gillette Stadium this Sunday to play the Patriots, who haven’t lost at home since Week 4 of the 2017 season.
— The Bills, who’ve reached the postseason just once since 1999, are in a similar boat. They’ve played just one game against a current playoff team, losing at home to the Patriots in Week 4. Their remaining schedule: vs. Denver, at Dallas, vs. Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at New England, vs. Jets.
— It’s almost certainly too little, too late, but the Falcons have looked like a different team since their bye. They’ve steamrolled the Saints and Panthers in the last two weeks, winning by a combined score of 55-12. Atlanta won’t make the playoffs, but if this trend continues, Dan Quinn could keep his job.
— The Browns theoretically kept their playoff hopes alive with a signature win in Pittsburgh last Thursday, but it’s hard to imagine them winning much of anything with star pass rusher Myles Garrett suspended for the rest of the season.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images