Week 12 is here, meaning only six weeks are left the 2020 NFL regular season. 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:
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 game lead over the Chiefs for the top seed and the lone bye. They have a very favorable schedule ahead to follow the Jaguars win in Week 11. They now lead the Browns by three 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 (9-1), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs got a much-needed Week 11 road win after the bye to avenge their Week 5 home loss to the Raiders. They now have a comfortable three-game lead in the division. It will probably come down to the wire for the No. 1 seed between them and the Steelers with two tough NFC South road games left. Remaining schedule: at TB, vs. DEN, at MIA, at NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAC
3. Buffalo Bills (7-3), first place, AFC East. The Bills, coming off a bye in Week 11, now have a full-game lead over the Dolphins and a three-game lead over the Patriots, after both teams lost as favorites in Week 11. They also beat the Dolphins and Patriots in the first meetings to hold the current tiebreakers. Their losses against the Chiefs and Titans hurt for potential seeding, but they do get a shot at home against the Steelers. Remaining schedule: vs. LAC, at SF, vs. PIT, at DEN, at NE, vs. MIA
4. Indianapolis Colts (7-3), first place, AFC South. The Colts had to beat the Packers to stay ahead of the Titans, whom they beat in Week 10. The win over a quality NFC opponent in Week 11 also strengthened their wild-card fallback position. The Colts’ key AFC losses are to the Browns and Ravens. They play the Titans again in Week 12 with first place on the line. Remaining schedule: vs. TEN, at HOU, at LV, vs. HOU, at PIT, vs. JAX
5. Tennessee Titans (7-3), second place, AFC South. The Titans got a much-needed win against the Ravens, another wild-card hopeful, to at least get this wild-card position after the Colts followed suit with an overtime win of their own against the Packers. Now they need to focus on splitting with the Colts in Indianapolis this week. The Titans also have a key AFC win over the Bills. They play the Browns, over whom they have a conference record edge, in Week 13. Remaining schedule: at IND, vs. CLE, at JAX, vs. DET, at GB, at HOU
6. Cleveland Browns (7-3), second place, AFC North. The Browns got another gritty cold, rainy weather win over the Eagles at home in Week 11 to get back into wild-card position, thrilled by the Ravens also losing to the Titans to fall one game behind them. The Browns lost to the Raiders but beat the Colts and they draw the Titans in Week 13. They do not play the Dolphins but play the Ravens and Steelers again. Remaining schedule: at JAX, at TEN, vs. BAL, at NYG, at NYJ, vs. PIT
7. Las Vegas Raiders (6-4), second place, AFC West. The Raiders are still here after losing to the Chiefs last Sunday night because they still have a superior conference record (4-3) than either the Dolphins or Ravens. They beat the Browns and also get shots at home against the Colts (Week 14) and Dolphins (Week 16) in December. Remaining schedule: at ATL, at NYJ, vs. IND, vs. LAC, vs. MIA, at DEN
Who can get there?
8. Miami Dolphins (6-4)
9. Baltimore Ravens (6-4)
The Ravens dropped all the way down here after their shocking blown-lead home loss to the Titans as their free fall continues from the AFC’s top seed in 2019. They also are in third place in the North now, too, behind the Browns. That makes Thursday against the Steelers a must-win. The Dolphins’ upset loss at the Broncos put them out of position, so they must rebound against the Jets on the road.
Who’s likely out?
10. Denver Broncos (4-6)
11. New England Patriots (4-6)
12. Houston Texans (4-7)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-7)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)
16. New York Jets (0-10)
The Jets can now fully focus on edging the Jaguars for the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Broncos are still out of luck despite beating the Dolphins. The Patriots wasted their Ravens victory with a loss to the Texans. The Chargers can keep thinking about what might have been with Justin Herbert with all their close losses, while the Texans already dug themselves too deep of a hole. The Bengals are done with their latest loss and Joe Burrow hurt.
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. New Orleans Saints (8-2), first place, NFC South. The Saints’ sparkling conference record (now 7-1) is a big asset after their Week 11 thrashing of the Falcons with Taysom Hill. They have a one-game lead over the Packers, which puts them back on top because they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker otherwise. They are strong favorite to hold this seed for home-field advantage and the lone bye. Remaining schedule: at DEN, at ATL, at PHI, vs. KC, vs. MIN, at CAR
2. Los Angeles Rams (7-3), first place, NFC West. The Rams jumped the Seahawks in the standings with their Monday night win over the Buccaneers following a Week 10 beat down They are just 1-1 in the division, having lost to the 49ers, but they are now 7-1 in the conference overall, giving them the tiebreaker over the Packers for this spot and helping them have a strong fallback on the wild card. Remaining schedule: vs. SF, at ARI, vs. NE, vs. NYJ, at SEA, vs. ARI
3. Green Bay Packers (7-3), first place, NFC North. The Packers hold a two-game division lead over the bye-week Bears, who are fading fast and whom the Packers get to play twice, including in Week 12 at Lambeau Field. The AFC loss to the Colts hurts in Week 11, because it dropped them from No. 1 all the way down here. 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. CHI, vs. PHI, at DET, vs. CAR, vs. TEN, at CHI
4. Washington Football Team (4-7), first place, NFC East. Washington.took over first place by finishing a sweep of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in the second game of Week 12. WFT played its most complete game of the season, offensively and defensively. If the Eagles win, they would come back up here. If the Eagles lose, Washington would also need the Giants, who swept them, to lose to the Bengals, whom Washington just beat. The Giants swept Washington. Remaining schedule: at PIT, vs. SF, vs. SEA, vs. CAR, at PHI
5. Seattle Seahawks (7-3), second place, NFC West. The Seahawks briefly took the division lead when they beat the Cardinals to open Week 11, but fell down to the top wild-card spot with the Rams beating he Buccaneers on Monday night. The Rams beat the Seahawks in their first meeting in Week 10. The Seahawks have pressured to beat the Eagles to keep pace with the Rams and Cardnals, who both have easier matchups in Week 12. Remaining schedule: at PHI, vs. NYG, vs. NYJ, at WSH,vs. LAR at SF
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers blew a big opportunity to become the division and conference front-runners against the Saints. Now they need to finish a full game ahead of the Saints, to whom they lost twice, to take the South. They are in strong shape, however, to fall back on one of the three wild cards with already seven wins. Losing to the Rams at home to close Week 11 didn’t help, however. Their last tough game is at home against the Chiefs in Week 12, before a weak slate after the Week 13 bye. Remaining schedule: KC, vs. MIN, at ATL, at DET, vs. ATL
7. Arizona Cardinals (6-4), third place, NFC West. The Cardinals dropped back four spots to the final NFC wild card with their loss against the Seahawks. They still have a one-game lead over the Bears, but would lose the tiebreaker for now with the Bears having one more conference win going into Week 12. A split of their final games, which is very doable, should allow the Cardinals to sneak in here. Remaining schedule: at NE, vs. LAR, at NYG, vs. PHI, vs. SF, at LAR
Who can get there?
8. Chicago Bears (5-5)
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-6)
The Bears, after starting 5-1, have free-fallen to .500 coming out of their Week 11 bye. The Vikings made a big move back toward contention by beating the Bears in Week 10, ony to fall flat against the Cowboys at home in Week 11. Minnesota still can make a run, but the Dallas and Seattle losses hurt most. The Bears and Vikings pretty much need to think about running the table and also need help.
Who’s likely out?
10. San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
11. Carolina Panthers (4-7)
12. Detroit Lions (4-7)
13. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)
14. New York Giants (3-7)
15. Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
16. Dalals Cowboys (3-8)
The Lions joined this group with their bad loss to the Panthers in Week 11 and fell behind the Panthers with their loss to the Texans in Week 12. The injury-riddled 49ers’ latest bad loss, to the Saints, is part of a very difficult slate ahead. The Falcons and Panthers have proved to be extremely flawed teams because of defense and injuries. The Eagles fell out of the No. 4 seed and the NFC East lead with Washington’s win over Dallas.