NFL playoff picture: Cowboys add to NFC East lead, Saints look up at Rams

first_img(An updated NFL playoff picture reflective of Week 13 NFL results can be viewed here.)The three Week 12 games played on Thanksgiving had a big impact on the NFL playoff picture before Sunday’s games arrived. And as the week continued Sunday, even more changes were made to the postseason outlook. Of course, at this point in the season, almost all game results have playoff implications, and the Cowboys’ upset of the Saints on Thursday had huge ones, too. Who’s knocking on the door:7. Colts (6-5)8. Dolphins (5-6)9. Bengals (5-6)10. Broncos (5-6)11. Titans (5-6)The Colts’ last-second win over the Dolphins was huge for both teams; Miami’s loss dropped it several spots in the playoff picture. The Titans suffered a tough loss to the Texans on Monday night. The Bengals are close to being just about out, especially with Andy Dalton placed on injured reserve.Who’s just about out:12. Browns (4-6-1)13. Bills (4-7)14. Jaguars (3-8)15. Jets (3-8)16. Raiders (2-9)Buffalo buried Jacksonville with a win over the Jags on Sunday as the Jets and Raiders further buried themselves. At least the Browns have some promise for the future with Baker Mayfield.AFTER FURTHER REVIEW:Top storylines from Week 12 in the NFLNFL playoff pictureNFCWho would be in:1. Rams (10-1), first in NFC WestSeattle beat Carolina on Sunday, meaning LA needs to wait at least one more week to win the NFC West. Regardless, the Rams are sitting pretty with a manageable schedule remaining, including two freebies in the division.  What’s left:  at DET, at CHI, vs. PHI, at ARI, vs. SF2. Saints (10-2), first in NFC SouthNew Orleans fell behind Los Angeles on Thursday night. Now the Rams have a chance to control the top seed and home-field advantage despite losing to the Saints. The Saints have a little more work to do to take care of the division, too, as they could see the lead drop to three at the end of Week 13 with two left against the second-place Panthers.  What’s left:  at TB, at CAR, vs. PIT, vs. CAR3. Bears (8-3), first in NFC NorthThe Bears got the big, Mitchell Trubisky-less win over the Lions they needed Thursday to keep their comfortable lead in the division. Now, assuming they can take care of business against the Giants, the Bears can aim for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye when they play the Rams in a couple weeks.  What’s left:  at NYG, vs. LAR, vs. GB, at SF, at MIN4. Cowboys (7-5), first in NFC EastThe Cowboys know they’ll be in first place all by themselves after Week 13 as their big victory over the Saints followed up their wins over the Eagles and Redskins. If they beat the Eagles again next week, they will be a near-lock to pull away in the division. The Cowboys will have a hard time, however, catching the Bears and are likely capped at this seed.  What’s left:  vs. PHI, at IND, vs. TB, at NYG5. Vikings (6-4-1), wild cardWith so many teams fighting for the two NFC wild-card spots, the Vikings needed to bury the Packers on Sunday night. The good news is they did it; the bad news is they might have lost Xavier Rhodes to a hamstring injury ahead of their game against the Patriots. And after that game comes a crucial matchup against the Seahawks.  What’s left: at NE, at SEA, vs. MIA, at DET, vs. CHI6. Redskins (6-5), wild cardWashington is in for now thanks to Seattle’s win in Carolina, as the Redskins have the tiebreaker over the Seahawks via conference record. The bad news for Washington is the fact that it has so much competition for a wild-card spot and is dealing with injuries. The good news is the schedule is manageable. What’s left: at PHI, vs. NYG, at JAX, at TEN, vs. PHIWho’s knocking on the door:7. Seahawks (6-5)8. Panthers (6-5)9. Eagles (5-6)The Panthers suffered a crushing loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. Not only did they drop out of the No. 5 seed and fall behind Seattle, but they fell behind Washington the playoff picture, too. (Washington beat Carolina earlier this season.) The Eagles, on the other hand, essentially saved their season with a last-minute win over the Giants. Going into the Sunday and Monday games of Week 13, below is the current NFL playoff picture.MORE: NFL standings | Week 12 scoreboardNFL playoff pictureAFCWho would be in:1. Chiefs (9-2), first in AFC WestBecause they lost to the Patriots and because the Texans are hot, the Chiefs can’t rest easy in the quest for home-field advantage. Fortunately they have a relatively manageable remaining schedule, with the Week 15 showdown against the Chargers looming as the toughest game left.  What’s left:  at OAK, vs. BAL, vs. LAC, at SEA, vs. OAK2. Patriots (8-3), first in AFC EastSunday’s win over the Jets was a big step for the Patriots in terms of the division standings, but the Steelers’ loss to the Broncos was even bigger for New England’s overall AFC outlook. Next week’s game against the Vikings — and the Steelers game, of course — will play a big factor in the playoff seeding. New England will be sitting pretty if it can beat Minnesota.  What’s left:  vs. MIN, at MIA, at PIT, vs. BUF, vs. NYJ3. Texans (8-3), first in AFC SouthThe Texans, who also gained a spot in the standings with the Steelers’ loss, still have a comfortable lead in their division with five games left to play, but the Colts are starting to put some pressure on the South leaders. Riding an eight-game winning streak, Houston can set its goals higher for one of the top two seeds. Unfortunately, one of its early losses was to New England.  What’s left:  vs. CLE, vs. IND, at NYJ, at PHI, vs. JAX4. Steelers (7-3-1), first in AFC NorthPittsburgh needed a win in Denver to keep the No. 2 seed ahead of a tough stretch that includes games against the Chargers, Patriots and Saints. The Steelers didn’t get it. That aforementioned New England game could determine whether the Steelers will have a first-round bye.  What’s left: vs. LAC, at OAK, vs. NE, at NO, CIN5. Chargers (8-3), wild cardWith their win over the Cardinals on Sunday, the Chargers padded their cushion over a big pack for one of the AFC wild cards. They also kept alive and well their chances of catching the first-place Chiefs with that Week 15 game looming. Philip Rivers is hot. Joey Bosa is back. LA is in good shape ahead of a big game in Pittsburgh. The only downer is Melvin Gordon’s latest knee injury.  What’s left: at PIT, vs. CIN, at KC, vs. BAL, at DEN6. Ravens (6-5), wild cardThe Ravens have no breathing room with this spot, so they desperately needed to pull away from the Raiders in the second half Sunday. The Steelers’ loss also pulled the Ravens a game closer in the division standings. The question moving forward will be what to do at quarterback when Joe Flacco is healthy enough to play, especially with two tough AFC games (Chiefs and Chargers) left on the schedule.  What’s left: at ATL, at KC, vs. TB, at LAC, vs. CLE.center_img Who’s just about out:10. Packers (4-6-1)11. Falcons (4-7)12. Buccaneers (4-7)13. Lions (4-7)14. Giants (3-8)15. Cardinals (2-9)16. 49ers (2-9)Green Bay’s playoff hopes all but ended with its loss in Minnesota on Sunday night; it now loses tiebreakers to the Vikings, Seahawks and Redskins. Atlanta, Detroit, New York, San Francisco and Arizona sunk further down after losing this week. Tampa Bay got a win with Jameis Winston, for whatever that’s worth when decision time on his future with the franchise arrives.last_img

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