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NFL Playoff Picture: Week 13

Houston back among division leaders, Saints with a chance to clinch South

Mark Menard
November 26, 2019 - 6:52 pm
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Thanksgiving week is upon us, and as many as three teams could end the weekend grateful for 2019 postseason tickets. Let’s break down the playoff picture:

 

NFC

NORTH

1) Green Bay (8-3) | 2) Minnesota (8-3) | 3) Chicago (5-6) | 4) Detroit (3-7-1)

The Packers had no answers Sunday night against the 49ers, and the loss dropped Green Bay into a tie with the idle Vikings at the top of the North. The Pack holds the tiebreaker by way of a head-to-head win over Minnesota back in Week 2, but the door is open for the Vikings to make a move into the lead.

Chicago moved to 3 games back after beating the Giants. The Lions’ loss to Washington dropped them to 4 ½ games back and puts them on the doorstep of divisional elimination.

 

WEST

1) San Francisco (10-1) | 2) Seattle (9-2) | 3) Los Angeles (6-5)

OUT: Arizona (3-7-1)

The Niners got a dominant win over Green Bay but are still looking over their shoulders at Seattle, who snuck past the Eagles. The Seahawks trail San Fran by 1 game and hold a head-to-head win over the Niners from Week 10, so a tie would put Seattle at the head of the West. The Rams are sliding further and further back after their blowout loss to Baltimore on Monday night. They sit 4 games back with 5 to play.

 

EAST

1) Dallas (6-5) | 2) Philadelphia (5-6) | 3) New York (2-9) | 4) Washington (2-9)

Dallas saw their offense stifled by the Patriots but benefited from Philly’s loss to the Seahawks, so the Cowboys maintained their 1-game lead over the Eagles.

The Giants and Washington both sit 4 games out. New York breaks the tie via a Week 4 head-to-head win.

 

SOUTH

1) New Orleans (9-2) | 2) Carolina (5-6)

OUT: Tampa Bay (4-7) | Atlanta (3-8)

New Orleans earned a hard-fought 34-31 win over Carolina to move to the doorstep of a third straight division title. The Panthers now sit 4 games out with just five games to play.

Tampa Bay beat Atlanta 35-22, and ironically, the fact that Tampa got the win eliminated both teams from divisional contention.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS:

New Orleans can clinch the NFC South championship with:

A win at Atlanta on Thursday night

A tie against the Falcons AND a loss or tie by Carolina against Washington.

 

DIVISION LEADERS

1) San Francisco (10-1) | 2) New Orleans (9-2) | 3) Green Bay (8-3) | 4) Dallas (6-5)

The 49ers remain at the top of the NFC and earned what could be a key tiebreaker by beating Green Bay, knocking the Packers to a 2-game deficit for the top seed. But the Saints continue to loom just 1 game back, and they’ll host San Francisco in Week 14. The Cowboys sit in the distant rear at 4 games out of the conference lead.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS:

San Francisco can clinch a playoff berth with:

A win at Baltimore AND a loss or tie by the LA Rams at Arizona

A tie AND an LA Rams loss

 

WILD CARD

1) Seattle (9-2) | 2) Minnesota (8-3)

3) Los Angeles (6-5)

Every team not residing in Seattle or Minneapolis lost ground this week in the wild card race, opening up a big gap between the leaders and the hopefuls.

The Seahawks remain in front with the Vikings just 1 game back, and the two will go head-to-head this weekend. Otherwise, the Rams are the only other NFC team sitting above .500, and they trail Seattle by 3 games and Minnesota by 2 with just five to play.

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS

1) Chicago (5-6) | 2) Philadelphia (5-6) | 3) Carolina (5-6) | Tampa Bay (4-7)

5) Detroit (3-7-1) | 6) Arizona (3-7-1) | 7) Atlanta (3-8)

OUT: New York (2-9) | Washington (2-9)

NFC record separates the three 5-6 teams: Chicago – 4-4 | Philadelphia – 3-5 | Carolina – 2-6

NFC record separates the two 3-7-1 teams: Detroit – 2-5-1 | Arizona – 2-6-1

New York and Washington have their tie settled at the divisional level. Both are eliminated from the wild card race anyway though, even if both are still alive in the NFC East.

 

AFC

AFC NORTH

1) Baltimore (9-2) | 2) Pittsburgh (6-5) | 3) Cleveland (5-6)

OUT: Cincinnati (0-11)

All three division contenders grabbed victories so no change here. The Ravens sit head and shoulders above their division rivals and looked dominant in blasting the Rams on Monday night 45-6. Pittsburgh slipped past the Bengals and trailing Baltimore by 3 games. The Browns mauled Miami to remain 4 games back.

 

AFC WEST

1) Kansas City (7-4) | 2) Oakland (6-5) | 3) Los Angeles (4-7) | 4) Denver (3-8)

The Chiefs got to sit at home this week and watch Oakland squander a golden opportunity. The Raiders could have pulled even with KC but got humbled by the Jets 34-3. Now Oakland is back to a full game behind Kansas City. The good news for Gruden’s gang: They can make it up this week and avenge their Week 2 loss to the Chiefs if they can pull off an upset at Arrowhead. The Chargers were off as well this week and remain 3 games back. Denver got bullied by the Bills and now sit 4 games out.

 

AFC EAST

1) New England (10-1) | 2) Buffalo (8-3)

OUT: New York (4-7) | Miami (2-9)

No change in the two-team race in the East as the Patriots slipped by Dallas 13-9, while Buffalo beat up on the Broncos 20-3. Buffalo remains 2 games behind New England.

 

SOUTH

1) Houston (7-4) | 2) Indianapolis (6-5) | 3) Tennessee (6-5) | 4) Jacksonville (4-7)

The Texans rebounded nicely from last week’s drubbing by Baltimore by retaking the lead in the South via a 20-17 win over the Colts. Not only did the victory give Houston a 1 game edge on Indy, it also avenged a Week 7 loss to even up the season series with Indianapolis at a game apiece.

The loss meanwhile dropped the Colts into a tie with the Titans, who also sit just 1 game out of first after pounding the fading Jaguars 42-20. The Colts beat Tennessee way back in Week 2 to earn the temporary head-to-head tiebreaker, but the surging Tannehill-led Titans can make up that setback in this Sunday’s rematch. As for Jacksonville, they sit 3 games out of first place.

 

DIVISION LEADERS

1) New England (10-1) | 2) Baltimore (9-2) | 3) Houston (7-4) | 4) Kansas City (7-4)

The Patriots held their 1-game lead atop the AFC over the Ravens. Keep in mind that Baltimore’s head-to-head win over New England in Week 9 is what makes this race truly interesting as a tie would give the top spot to Baltimore.

The Texans took over the lead in the South and bumped Kansas City down from the 3-seed to the 4-seed thanks to a head-to-head win over the Chiefs in Week 6.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS:

New England can clinch a playoff berth with:

A win at Houston AND an Oakland loss or tie at Kansas City

A win AND a Pittsburgh loss or tie against Cleveland

A tie AND losses by Oakland AND Pittsburgh

A tie AND losses by Oakland AND Indianapolis against Tennessee

A tie AND losses by Indianapolis AND Pittsburgh

 

WILD CARD

1) Buffalo (8-3) | 2) Pittsburgh (6-5)

3) Oakland (6-5) | 4) Indianapolis (6-5) | 5) Tennessee (6-5)

The Bills have stretched their lead over the rest of the wild card pack to 2 games with five left to play, giving them the inside track for their second playoff berth in three seasons. It’s a drastic turnaround for a team that went from 1999-2017 without earning a postseason ticket.

There’s a four-team pileup for the bottom AFC wild card spot. The Titans find themselves eliminated right from the jump because they lose out on division tiebreakers to the Colts.

From there, the three-team race becomes two because Indy lost to both Pittsburgh and Oakland this season, locking them out.

That leaves the Steelers and the Raiders. Pittsburgh gets the edge by way of a slim conference record edge: 5-3 vs. 4-3.

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS

1) Cleveland (5-6) | 2) Jacksonville (4-7) | 3) Los Angeles (4-7)

4) New York (4-7) | 5) Denver (3-8) | 6) Miami (2-9)

AFC record separates the three 4-7 teams: Jacksonville – 4-5 | Los Angeles – 2-6 | New York – 1-6

 

ELIMINATED

Cincinnati (0-11)

 

GAMES TO WATCH: WEEK 13

New Orleans can become the first team in 2019 to lock down a playoff spot and a division title if they beat Atlanta on Thanksgiving night.

Indianapolis and Tennessee play a rematch that could play a big role in both the AFC South and wild card races.

Baltimore hosts San Francisco in a game that could very well be a Super Bowl preview.

Kansas City faces Oakland in a key AFC West matchup. A win could all but lock up the division for the Chiefs.

Houston hosts New England in a battle of AFC division leaders on Sunday night.

Seattle and Minnesota square off on Monday Night Football in a matchup of NFC wild-card front-runners who both have greater division-title aspirations.

 

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