NFL playoff picture: Updated AFC, NFC standings after Week 12

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NFL playoff picture: Updated AFC, NFC standings for Week 12

Week 12 is here, meaning only five weeks are left the 2020 NFL regular season after this. Every win becomes a lot more important in trying to lock down division titles or wild-card berths to get into the playoffs, while every loss can further dash those hopes.

The postseason field expanding by one team each in the AFC and the NFC to a total of 14 has brought more teams into realistic contention over the closing stretch. Based on the current standings, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:

WEEK 12 NFL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight-up predictions 

(Getty Images)

NFL standings for Week 12

AFC playoff picture

Who would be in?

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0), first place, AFC North. The Steelers have a precarious half-game lead over the Chiefs for the top seed and the lone bye. They have a very favorable schedule ahead following their win over the Jaguars in Week 11. They lead the Browns by 2 1/2 games and the Ravens by four games in the division, with head-to-head tiebreakers against both teams. Remaining schedule: vs. BAL, vs. WSH, at BUF, at CIN, vs. IND, at CLE

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs got a much-needed Week 11 road win after their bye to avenge their Week 5 home loss to the Raiders. They followed that with a strong road win over the Buccaneers in Week 12. The race for the No. 1 seed between them and the Steelers will probably come down to the wire with another tough road game against an NFC South team left. Remaining schedule: vs. DEN, at MIA, at NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAC

3. Tennessee Titans (8-3), first place, AFC South. The Titans followed up their massive win over the Ravens in Week 11 with a monster division victory over the Colts to even the season series in Week 12 and also take back first place in the division. The Titans also have a win over the Bills, which allows them to jump up here. Remaining schedule: vs. CLE, at JAX, vs. DET, at GB, at HOU

4. Buffalo Bills (8-3), first place, AFC East. The Bills, with their win over the Chargers, maintained a full-game lead over the Dolphins and a three-game lead over the Patriots in the division after all three teams won in Week 12. They also beat the Dolphins and Patriots in their first meetings and thus hold the current tiebreakers. Losses to the Chiefs and Titans hurt the Bills’ potential seeding, but they do get a shot at the Steelers at home. Remaining schedule: at SF, vs. PIT, at DEN, at NE, vs. MIA

5. Cleveland Browns (8-3), second place, AFC North. The Browns continued to strengthen their wild-card position with a tough road victory over the Jaguars and help from the Raiders and Colts losing. The Browns lost to the Raiders but beat the Colts. They do not play the Dolphins but play the Ravens and Steelers again. They have another tough test against the Titans next week. Remaining schedule: at TEN, vs. BAL, at NYG, at NYJ, vs. PIT

6. Miami Dolphins (7-4), second place, AFC East. The Dolphins took care of sweeping the Jets to remain one game behind the Bills in the division and jump into the second wild-card spot ahead of the losing Colts, over whom they have a conference record tiebreaker, and the Raiders, who were upset by the Falcons. They also moved up a half-game on the Ravens and made sure to stay two ahead of the winning Patriots. Remaining schedule: vs. CIN. vs KC. vs. NE, at LV, at BUF

7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4), second place, AFC South. The Colts lost their hold on the division when they were shellacked by the Titans at home in Week 12. They’re still in playoff position with the Raiders also losing, but they would fall out of it with a Ravens win Tuesday; the Colts lost to the Ravens at home in Week 9. The Dolphins and Ravens have winning conference records; the Colts do not. Remaining schedule: at HOU, at LV, vs. HOU, at PIT, vs JAX

Who can get there?

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
9. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

The Ravens, COVID-19 outbreak and all, have a big opportunity against the Steelers to get into playoff position, thanks to the Titans — to whom they lost — jumping into the division lead and the Colts — whom they beat — falling into the final wild-card spot. The Raiders suffered a tough loss to the Falcons, a big blow to their once strong wild-card hopes.

Who’s likely out?

10. New England Patriots (5-6)
11. Denver Broncos (4-7)
12. Houston Texans (4-7)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1)

Who’s out

15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)
16. New York Jets (0-11)

The Broncos are still out of luck despite beating the Dolphins in Week 11. The Patriots wasted their Ravens victory with a loss to the Texans and the Cardinals win helps only a little. The Chargers can keep thinking about what might have been with Justin Herbert after all their close losses. The Texans dug themselves too deep of a hole before the win over the Lions. The Bengals are done with their latest loss and Joe Burrow hurt. The Jets can now fully focus on edging the Jaguars for the No. 1 pick in the draft.

MORE: NFL’s expanded playoffs, explained

NFC playoff picture

(Getty Images)

Who would be in?

1. New Orleans Saints (9-2), first place, NFC South. The Saints continued their march back to the top of the NFC behind Taysom Hill with their Week 12 walkover in Denver. Their sparkling conference record (now 7-1) is a big asset after their Week 11 thrashing of the Falcons. They need to stay ahead of the Packers because they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker otherwise. They are strong favorites to hold this seed for home-field advantage and the lone bye. Remaining schedule: at ATL, at PHI, vs. KC, vs. MIN, at CAR

2. Seattle Seahawks (8-3), first place, NFC West. The Seahawks jumped back up here from the top wild-card spot after the Rams, who beat them in Week 10, lost to the 49ers a second time and the Cardinals lost to the Patriots on Sunday. The Seahawks beat the Eagles to stay here and also jumped the Packers with the strength-of-victory tiebreaker. They have a very favorable slate ahead to finish on top and try to push the Saints. Remaining schedule: vs. NYG, vs. NYJ,  at WSH, vs. LAR, at SF

3. Green Bay Packers (8-3), first place, NFC North. The Packers hold a three-game division lead over the Bears and Vikings after beating the Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. The Packers can still sweep the Bears and have already split with the Vikings. The Week 11 loss to the Colts hurt because it dropped them from No. 1. They also need to root for the Rams and Seahawks to fade so they can work to get back home-field advantage over the Saints, whom they beat in New Orleans in Week 3. Remaining schedule: vs. PHI, at DET, vs. CAR, vs. TEN, at CHI

4. New York Giants (4-7), first place, NFC East. The Giants took over first place after their win over the Bengals, coupled with Washington beating the Cowboys on Thursday. They are here over Washington because they swept that team. They’ve already gained a split against the Eagles, as well. The Giants stay here with an Eagles loss to the Seahawks on Monday night but they also play at the Seahawks next week and have a tough slate ahead. Remaining schedule: at SEA, vs. ARI, vs CLE, at BAL, vs. DAL

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4), second place, NFC West. The Rams fell behind the Seahawks with their shocking second loss to the 49ers at home. They also failed to take advantage of the Cardinals losing, too. They should still feel pretty secure about falling back on a wild card with the Buccaneers, whom they beat in Week 11, losing again. Remaining schedule: at ARI, vs. NE, vs. NYJ,  at SEA, vs. ARI

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers lost their Week 12 matchup with the Chiefs but stayed in playoff position with the Cardinals losing to Tom Brady’s former team, the Patriots, earlier Sunday. They did get their offense and defense to wake up in the second half, which bodes well for them locking up a wild card behind the Saints based on a very favorable closing slate. Remaining schedule: BYE, vs. MIN, at ATL, at DET, vs. ATL

7. Arizona Cardinals (6-5), third place, NFC West. The Cardinals dropped four spots to the final wild card with their loss to the Seahawks in Week 11 and then followed that with a tough loss to the Patriots. They still have a half-game lead over the Bears but would lose the tiebreaker for now with the Bears having one more conference win through Week 12. A 3-2 record in their final five games, which is very doable, should allow the Cardinals to sneak in. Remaining schedule: vs. LAR, at NYG, vs. PHI, vs. SF, at LAR

Who can get there?

8. Chicago Bears (5-6)
9. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

The Bears, after starting 5-1, have free-fallen to below .500 after coming out of their Week 11 bye. The Vikings made a big move back toward contention by beating the Bears in Week 10, only to fall flat against the Cowboys at home in Week 11. Minnesota still can make a run after saving itself against Carolina, but the Dallas and Seattle losses hurt most. The Bears and Vikings pretty much need to think about running the table and also getting help. The Vikings did beat the Bears head-to-head, but those teams’ three-way tie with the 49ers allows the Bears to stay ahead with their 5-4 conference record.

Who’s likely out?

10. San Francisco 49ers (5-6)
11. Detroit Lions (4-7)
12. Washington Football Team (4-7)
13. Atanta Falcons (4-7)
14. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1)
16. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

The 49ers are getting healthier but need to put everything together too fast to jump the Cardinals, Bears and Vikings. The Lions fell hard enough to dismiss coach Matt Patricia, while Washington and the Falcons won to make it a three-way tie at 4-7. The Eagles failed to return to first place in the East with a loss to the Seahawks. The Panthers and Cowboys both fell harder toward the bottom in Week 12.

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