The 2021 NFL season is into double-digit weeks and closer to th end of its new 17-game schedule. It’s time again to check in on the updated standings and what the playoff picture is looking like for Week 12.
The league kept its expanded playoff field, with 14 of its 32 teams (43.8 percent) set to qualify for the latest postseason. That includes 7 each from the AFC and NFC, with only the No. 1 seeds getting byes on top of home-field advantage.
Who would be in, who’s still in contention, and who should be thinking about next season? Here’s a comprehensive look:
NFL POWER RANKINGS:
Cardinals back to No. 1; Chiefs, Patriots rise as Cowboys, Bills fall for Week 12
NFL standings for Week 12
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Tennessee Titans (8-3), first place, AFC South. The Titans stumbled with a shocking home loss to the Texans to cool off from strong control of the top seed. They still hold it with a game and an extra win in hand over the Ravens, but it gets a lot more precarious with the red-hot Patriots up next. The Titans have key wins over the Chiefs and Bills. Remaining strength of schedule: .411
2. Baltimore Ravens (7-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens rallied without Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown to survive in Chicago to maintain the lead in the division. They also put more heat on the losing Titans and stayed ahead of the winning Patriots. They draw the Browns on Sunday night. Remaining strength of schedule: .603
3. Buffalo Bills (7-4), first place, AFC East. The Bills fell hard to the Colts at home in Week 11 thanks to the run defense letting them down big-time. The loss gave the Patriots first place ahead of the teams meeting in two weeks, but the win over the Saints to open Week 12 allowed the Bills to jump back up based on a perfect and therefore better record in division play. Remaining strength of schedule: .508
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs stayed here after beating the Cowboys because they lost to both the Titans and Ravens and the Patriots have the superior conference record, too. A win was huge to keep staying ahead of the Chargers. The Chiefs will get a much-needed bye in Week 12. Remaining strength of schedule: .549
5. New England Patriots (7-4), second place, AFC East. The Patriots jumped up from wild-card status after ripping the Falcons to open Week 11 and then seeing the Bills gets upset by the Colts on Sunday, but fell back with the records evened coming out of Thursday. The Patriots have a key game against the Titans before facing the Bills and those same Colts on the road after a Week 14 bye. They hold a 5-1 record in AFC play, losing only to the Dolphins. Remaining strength of schedule: .523
6. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4), second place, AFC North. The Bengals had a huge bye with the rest of their division going 0-2-1 and followed that up by beating the Raiders handily coming out of it in Week 11. The Bengals are ahead of the Steelers, whom they play in Week 12 and beat earlier, and also jumped the Bills and Chargers, whom they host in Week 13, for because of conference tiebreakers. Remaining strength of schedule: .576
7. Los Angeles Chargers (6-4), second place, AFC West. The Chargers outlasted the Steelers in Week 11 to stay in playoff position and a half-game behind the Chiefs in the division. Justin Herbert gives them a chance every week and Brandon Staley remains on his coach of the year path. Remaining strength of schedule: .472
Who can get there?
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)
9. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
11. Cleveland Browns (6-5)
12. Denver Broncos (5-5)
The Steelers tumbled down here after losing to the Chargers on Sunday night. The Colts got a big win to put pressure on them and stay ahead of the Browns. The Bengals beat the Raiders in Week 11, which helped create some more separation in the muddled middle, although the Raiders did rebound in Week 12 in Dallas. The Broncos have the standings stacked against them.
Who’s set to be out?
13. Miami Dolphins (4-7)
14. Houston Texans (2-8)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8)
16. New York Jets (2-8)
The Texans pulled even with the Jaguars and Jets after beating the Titans. The Dolphins helped there by beating the Jets.
NFL PICKS WEEK 12: Straight up | Against the spread
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2), first place, NFC West. The Cardinals did their best to grind home an impressive road victory in Seattle once again without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. They already jumped up back here after the Packers lost to the Vikings in Week 11. The Cardinals enjoy a bye in Week 12. Remaining strength of schedule: .430
2. Green Bay Packers (8-3), first place, NFC North. The Packers couldn’t win the back-and-forth thriller with the Vikings. That loss hurt them more in the NFC seeding race for No. 1 between them, the Cardinals, Cowboys and Buccaneers given their division lead is still at three games. They host a key game vs. the Rams in Week 12. Remaining strength of schedule: .468
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3), first place, NFC South. The Buccaneers used Week 12’s win over the Giants to push closer to the top seed with the Packers and Cowboys losing and also padded the division lead over the losing Saints, Panthers and Falcons. Tampa Bay needed the victory badly after losing two consecutive games around a bye with Tom Brady having rare interception woes. Remaining strength of schedule: .453
3. Dallas Cowboys (7-4), first place, NFC East. The Cowboys failed to stay ahead of the Packers by losing badly to the Chiefs in Week 12. They dropped down to No. 4 after the Buccaneers, who beat them in Week 1, won. The Cowboys don’t need to worry about dropping down into the wild cards, because the division is a foregone conclusion with everyone else in the East still under .500. The loss to the Raiders to open Week 12 kept them here. Remaining strength of schedule: .476
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-3), second place, NFC West. The Rams had a bye in Week 11 so they should like how several of the teams around them lost to gain some ground even when idle, save for the Cardinals, the team they are still chasing in the division and trail by two games. The Rams need to get back on track in Week 12 in Green Bay after recent bad losses to the Titans and 49ers. Remaining strength of schedule: .542
6. Minnesota Vikings (5-5), second place, NFC North. The Vikings have been doing better in close games and the last-second Week 11 win over the Packers was massive to get them right into the thick of the playoff picture. They have been dangerous all season because of their balanced and explosive offense and Mike Zimmer is getting more timely play from the reeling defense. They draw the team behind them, the 49ers, in Week 12. Remaining strength of schedule: .459
7. San Francisco 49ers (5-5), third place, NFC West. The 49ers, who play the Vikings with a chance to jump up a key spot on Sunday, got here when the Saints fell below .500 by losing to the Bills on Thursday night. The 49ers got a key early win over the Eagles that may pay off big-time later in tiebreakers. Remaining strength of schedule: .493
Who can get there?
8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
9. Carolina Panthers (5-6)
10. New Orleans Saints (5-6)
11. Washington Football Team (4-6)
12. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
13. Chicago Bears (4-7)
14. New York Giants (3-7)
15. Seattle Seahawks (3-7)
The Saints are in trouble with their four-game losing skid and also lost to both the Eagles and Panthers. The Eagles, who did lose to the 49ers, also should be thinking wild card after their recent hot streak. The Panthers’ home loss to Washington was costly, as it also tightened things up behind them. The Giants flopped in a must-win game on Monday night. The Bears are still almost done and the Seahawks’ streak of winning with Russell Wilson is headed to a screeching halt.
Who’s set to be out?
16. Detroit Lions (0-10-1)
The Lions went back to losing in frustrating fashion in Weeks 11 after getting a post-bye tie in Week 10. That only grew with their latest close loss in the teens to the Bears at home on Thanksgiving.