Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Week 11

Mark Menard
November 13, 2018 - 12:58 pm

NFC North


1) Chicago overwhelmed 4) Detroit. 3) Green Bay easily handled Miami. 2) Minnesota sat idle on a bye week.


#1 Chicago (6-3), #2 Minnesota (5-3-1), #3 Green Bay (4-4-1), #4 Detroit (3-6)

By getting a win while the Vikings sat at home, the Bears gained a half-game of separation at the top of the division, but with four division games lying ahead, the gauntlet is just beginning for Chicago.

For now, the Vikings trail by a half-game. Green Bay sits 1.5 games back with Detroit now 3 games back.


Green Bay travels to Seattle on Thursday night. Chicago hosts Minnesota in a key primetime North showdown. Detroit hosts Carolina.


NFC West


1) Los Angeles may have wrapped up the West by completing the season sweep of 2) Seattle. 3) Arizona lost to Kansas City. 4) San Francisco lost to the Giants.


#1 Los Angeles (9-1), #2 Seattle (4-5), #3 Arizona (2-7), #4 San Francisco (2-8)

The Rams laid the remainder of the necessary groundwork for a second straight NFC West crown by dispatching the only division rival with an outside chance of snatching it out from under them. The season’s first playoff scenario belongs to L.A., who can clinch the division championship with a win this week and a loss by the Seahawks. I can’t remember any team ever clinching a playoff spot before they’ve had their bye week, so we could see NFL history this Monday night if things fall into place for the Rams.

As it stands, Seattle is now 4.5 games back. With Arizona trailing by 6.5 and San Francisco at 7 games back, both are officially ousted from the divisional race. The 49ers obviously can't make up a 7-game deficit with only six games left to play.

As for the Cards, they can still mathematically end up tied with the Rams with 9-7 a possible endpoint for both. But even if that highly-unlikely scenario were to happen, which would result in both also finishing 1-1 in the straight-up head-to-head matchup and 4-2 in divisional play,  the Rams have already clinched the lead in the common-opponents tiebreaker with eight wins out of a possible 12. The worst they could do there would be 8-4. With five losses notched already in that category, the best Arizona could do would be 7-5. Checkmate: Rams. Better luck next year, Cardinals.


Los Angeles travels to Mexico City for a Monday night showdown with Kansas City. Seattle hosts Green Bay on Thursday night. Arizona hosts Oakland. San Francisco sits out on their bye week.


NFC East


1) Washington outlasted Tampa Bay. 2) Dallas got a possibly pivotal win over 3) Philadelphia. 4) New York slipped past San Francisco on Monday night.


#1 Washington (6-3), #2 Dallas (4-5), #3 Philadelphia (4-5), #4 New York (2-7)

Washington did enough on defense on the road at Tampa Bay to get a victory, then got some help from divisional attrition as the Cowboys rose up to drag the Eagles down to their level – namely 4-5. What’s more… the win gave the ‘Boys the head-to-head tiebreaker over Philly until their Week 14 rematch, allowing Dallas to climb into second-place in the East past the world champs.

Both teams trail Washington by 2 games. New York sits 4 games back.


NFC South


1) New Orleans took Cincinnati to the woodshed for a blowout win. 2) Carolina was pasted by Pittsburgh on Thursday night. 3) Atlanta got blindsided by the Browns. 4) Tampa Bay couldn’t get out of their own way, losing to Washington.


#1 New Orleans (8-1), #2 Carolina (6-3), #3 Atlanta (4-5), #4 Tampa Bay (3-6)

It was a good week to be the Saints. They asserted their will on the road for a dominant win over the playoff-contending Bengals, while watching all their rivals pick up losses, opening up the separation they’ve been searching for during their eight-game winning streak.

Carolina now trails New Orleans by 2 games. Atlanta sits 4 games back. Tampa Bay now sits 5 games back with just six to play, putting them on divisional elimination watch next week.


New Orleans hosts Philadelphia. Carolina travels to Detroit. Atlanta hosts Dallas. Tampa Bay travels to face the Giants.




#1 Los Angeles (9-1), #2 New Orleans (8-1), #3 Chicago (6-3), #4 Washington (6-3)

New Orleans kept the heat on the Rams by winning their eighth straight. They still trail Los Angeles by a half-game because of the bye week discrepancy, but they’ve got that head-to-head tiebreaker in their pocket, meaning if both teams continue to win, the Saints would take over the top spot in the NFC on Thanksgiving night. But with the Rams headed for a monster matchup in Mexico City this Monday night against the AFC-leading Chiefs, the Saints could be in position to take over as early as next week if they can take care of their own business against the world champs.

Below the top two, Chicago and Washington sit tied, both sitting 2.5 games out of first. The Bears have the edge for the #3 spot thanks to a 4-1 NFC record vs. 6-2 for Washington.




#1 Carolina (6-3), #2 Minnesota (5-3-1), #3 Green Bay (4-4-1)

Carolina’s winning streak came to an end in humbling fashion in Pittsburgh, but the loss didn’t hurt them as much as it could have. They lost a half-game of separation to the idle Vikings, but last week’s three 4-4 squads all dipped back below .500. The Packers however did elevate themselves back into the mix, returning to .500 with a much-needed win. They sit 1 game behind the division-rival Vikings for the final playoff spot in the NFC.



#4 Atlanta (4-5), #5 Seattle (4-5), #6 Dallas (4-5), #7 Philadelphia (4-5), #8 Tampa Bay (3-6)

#9 Detroit (3-6), #10 Arizona (2-7), #11 New York (2-7), #12 San Francisco (2-8)

The NFC wild-card chase could get more robust again next week with four teams sitting just below .500. The Falcons lead the pack thanks to their 3-2 NFC record, compared to 3-3 for both Seattle and Dallas. From there, the Seahawks hold a head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to a win over the Cowboys in Week 3.

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t forgotten the Eagles. Because divisional tiebreakers come into play first and foremost, they are trapped behind Dallas as long as they hold the same record, at least until Week 14 when they get a chance to avenge their loss to the ‘Boys.

Below the 4-5 bunch, Tampa gets the edge over Detroit due to NFC record: 2-4 for the Bucs, 1-5 for the Lions. The same tiebreaker goes for the Cardinals and Giants. Arizona is 2-5 in conference play. New York is 1-6.


AFC North


1) Ben Roethlisberger dropped a perfect QB rating on the Panthers as Pittsburgh blasted Carolina on Thursday night. 2) Cincinnati got roasted by New Orleans. 4) Cleveland stunned Atlanta. 3) Baltimore sat out on the bye week.


#1 Pittsburgh (6-2-1), #2 Cincinnati (5-4), #3 Baltimore (4-5), #4 Cleveland (3-6-1)

Amidst news that holdout Pittsburgh running back LeVeon Bell may not report at all to the team in 2018, Steeler Nation could be forgiven for responding, “Who needs him?” Indeed, the Steelers seem to be hitting an enviable stride. They’ve taken five straight since winning just once in their first four games, and they catch a couple of teams reeling in the next two weeks with the Jags and Broncos on tap to close out November. It’s important to avoid a letdown because the closing kick could be a rocky one with four legit playoff contenders lined up in Pittsburgh’s last five games.

Cincinnati sits just 1.5 games back, but their defense could drag them down. Baltimore trails by 2.5 with Cleveland sitting 3.5 back.


Baltimore hosts Cincinnati in divisional action. Pittsburgh travels to Jacksonville. Cleveland sits out on the bye week.


AFC West


1) Kansas City found their offense unexpectedly slowed but by no means stopped as they escaped Arizona. 2) Los Angeles put down 4) Oakland to keep pace at the top of the division. 3) Denver sat out on the bye week.


#1 Kansas City (9-1), #2 Los Angeles (7-2), #3 Denver (3-6), #4 Oakland (1-8)

Week 10 brings the first mathematical elimination of the season as the Raiders can officially kiss their dreams of an AFC West title goodbye. Meanwhile, the Chiefs continue to be dogged by a Chargers squad that stayed hot on their tail. KC has won four straight for the second time this season, but just behind them in the standings, the Bolts have reeled off six straight, and this could be the week they catch up with the Chiefs set up for a huge Monday night showdown with the Rams.

For now, the Chargers remain 1.5 games back of KC. With Denver now 5.5 games back with just six to play, they could be bounced by the next time we chat. Oakland has been eliminated.


Los Angeles hosts Denver in divisional action with a chance to officially eliminate a West rival for a second straight week. Kansas City squares off with the Rams on Monday night in Mexico City. Oakland travels to Arizona.


AFC East


3) Buffalo was on the right side of an unexpected blowout, laying a beatdown on 4) New York. 1) New England got shocked on the road by Tennessee. 2) Miami fell on the road at Green Bay.



#1 New England (7-3), #2 Miami (5-5), #3 Buffalo (3-7), #4) New York (3-7)

Who would have suspected quarterback Matt Barkley was the missing piece to unlock the Bills’ offensive greatness? In all seriousness though, the Jets looked like they’re already booking their offseason vacations, which wouldn’t actually be a bad idea since they’re not going anywhere but home. Meanwhile, both teams at the top of the division were on the wrong end of outcomes this weekend, resulting in the only move this week being Buffalo gaining a game in a race they won’t win.

As it stands, Miami remains 2 games back, with the Bills and Jets both 4 games back. Buffalo’s win on Sunday gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker over New York at least until what I’m sure will be a hotly-anticipated rematch in three weeks.


All four teams in the East sit out on bye weeks this week.


AFC South


2) Tennessee shockingly dominated New England. 3) Indianapolis got a crucial divisional win over 4) Jacksonville. 1) Houston sat idle on their bye week.


#1 Houston (6-3), #2 Tennessee (5-4), #3 Indianapolis (4-5), #4 Jacksonville (3-6)

With the Texans resting for the week, Tennessee made up some much-needed ground with a win no one expected them to get over the Patriots, putting them back within 1 game of first-place. Meanwhile, Indy may have stuck a dagger in the heart of the Jaguars’ preseason dreams as the once-upon-a-time Super Bowl dark horse has now lost six of their last seven and five in a row.

The Colts moved into third place in the division, sitting 2 games back of Houston. Jacksonville now sits 3 games back.


Indianapolis hosts Tennessee in an important divisional battle. Houston travels to Washington. Jacksonville hosts Pittsburgh.




#1 Kansas City (9-1), #2 Pittsburgh (6-2-1), #3 New England (7-3), #4 Houston (6-3)

The Chiefs were gifted a bit of breathing room at the top of the AFC by the Patriots’ road loss in Nashville. What’s more, the Pats got passed in the standings by the North-leading Steelers.

Pittsburgh and New England are “virtually tied” thanks to a bye-week discrepancy and the tie on Pittsburgh’s record. The Patriots have both one more win AND one more loss, so while both trail first-place KC by 2 games, the Steelers get the nod for second-place thanks to a .722 winning percentage compared to .700 for the Pats. If the Chiefs keep their lead at the top, the fight between the Steelers and Patriots for the other first-round bye could get very interesting.

And don’t count out Houston, as they are just 2.5 games behind the Chiefs and just a half-game behind the other two division leaders.




#1 Los Angeles (7-2), #2 Cincinnati (5-4), #3 Tennessee (5-4), #4 Miami (5-5)

The Chargers are having a stellar season and yet can’t shake the feeling that they are a second-fiddle team. They’re L.A.’s “other” team despite having just one more loss than the NFC’s 9-1 Rams. In fact, the Bolts have the second-best record in the AFC, and yet they’re relegated to the wild-card chase because the team with the best record is their divisional rival in Kansas City. The good news is that, if they can keep pace, they’ll still have something to say about their chance at pushing their way into the division-leader tier when they play their rematch with the Chiefs in Week 15.

For the time-being, the Chargers have opened up a nice cushion in the race for a wild-card spot with a 2-game lead over all other hopefuls.

If the season ended today, the Bengals would still be the AFC’s other at-large bid, but their grip loosened with their loss to the Saints and the Titans’ win over New England. The two teams now sit tied, with Cincinnati’s 3-2 AFC record giving them the edge over Tennessee, who sits at 3-4 in conference play. The Dolphins sit a half-game behind Cincy and the Titans as they sit dead-even on the year.



#5 Baltimore (4-5), #6 Indianapolis (4-5), #7 Jacksonville (3-6), #8 Denver (3-6)

#9 Cleveland (3-6-1), #10 Buffalo (3-7), #11 New York (3-7), #12 Oakland (1-8)

The Ravens hold the edge over the Colts thanks to conference record – 4-3 for Baltimore vs. 3-4 for Indy, but the Colts are galloping towards relevance after winning three straight. Likewise, the Jags have a 2-4 AFC record compared to Denver at 1-5. Both trail Cleveland in winning percentage at .333 vs. the Browns’ mark of .350. The Bills hold a head-to-head win over the Jets.

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