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:
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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 one-game lead over the Chiefs for the top seed and the lone bye. They have a very favorable schedule ahead following 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 their bye to avenge their Week 5 home loss to the Raiders. They now have a comfortable three-game lead in the division. The race for the No. 1 seed between them and the Steelers will probably come down to the wire with two tough road games against NFC South teams left. Remaining schedule: at TB, 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 key AFC win over the Bills 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 winning 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 home against the Steelers. 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, helped by 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 keep one game behind the Bills in the division and also 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 shorthanded and shellacked by the Titans at home in Week 12. They still stay in playoff positioin for now with the Raiders also losing, but would fall behind the Ravens with the same record after losing to them 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 oppportunity against the Steelers to get into playoff position, thanks to the Titans, to whom they lost, jumping up to division leaders and the Colts, whom they beat, falling into the final wildcard. The Raiders suffered a tough NFC 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 (4-6)
12. Houston Texans (4-7)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8)
14. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)
16. New York Jets (0-11)
The Broncos are still out of luck despite beating the Dolphins. 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, while the Texans already dug themselves too deep of a hole before the win over the Lions. The Bengals are done with their latest NFC losses 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
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 favorites 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 beatdown. They are just 1-1 in the division, having lost to the 49ers, but they are 7-1 in the conference overall, giving them the tiebreaker over the Packers for this spot and helping them have a strong fallback with a 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 Bears, who are fading fast and whom the Packers get to play twice, including in Week 12 at Lambeau Field. 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. CHI, 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 by Washington beating the Cowboys on Thursday. They are here over Washington because they swept that team. They also already gained a split against the Eagles. The Giants would 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. 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 the Buccaneers on Monday night. The Rams beat the Seahawks in their first meeting in Week 10. The Seahawks have pressure to beat the Eagles to keep pace with the Rams and Cardinals, 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. 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 because of their 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. Remaining schedule: vs. KC, 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 NFC wild card with their loss to the Seahawks in Week 11 and 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 going into Week 12. A split of their final games, which is still very doable, should allow the Cardinals to sneak in here. Remaining schedule: vs. LAR, at NYG, vs. PHI, vs. SF, at LAR
Who can get there?
8. Chicago Bears (5-5)
9. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)
The Bears, after starting 5-1, have free-fallen to .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 by saving itslelf 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.
Who’s likely out?
10. San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
11. Detroit Lions (4-7)
12. Washington Football Team (4-7)
13. Atanta Falcons (4-7)
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)
15. Carolina Panhters (4-8)
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 would be back in first place in the East with a win over the Seahawks. The Panthers and Cowboys both fell harder toward the bottom in Week 12.