Friday, May 27, 2022

2021 NFL playoff picture, standings through Week 12: Washington knocks Vikings out of NFC wild card

The NFL continues to be as unpredictable as ever through 12 weeks. There have been 25 games decided by a game-winning score on the final play this season, the most such games through Week 12 of all-time — and plenty of those have made an impact on the playoff races in both conferences. 

Twelve teams have a .500 or better record in the AFC, setting up a wild final six weeks. Eight teams are within a game for the final playoff spot in the NFC, setting the stage for a chaotic holiday. 

Below, you can find a division-by-division breakdown of the current standings, how each club performed in Week 12 and what they have next on the schedule.

AFC East

New England Patriots

What to know: The Patriots are the No. 2 seed in the AFC since the Ravens beat the Browns on “Sunday Night Football” … they would’ve been the top seed if Baltimore had lost. The Pats lead the AFC East by half a game, but face the Bills in the first of two meetings next week. Big test for the AFC East leaders. 

Remaining schedule: at Bills, Bye Week, at Colts, vs. Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins 

Buffalo Bills

What to know: A convincing win over the Saints on Thursday keeps the Bills in playoff position in the AFC. The Bills are currently No. 6 in the AFC playoff standings, losing a tiebreaker to the Bengals based off conference record. Buffalo will battle New England for first place in the AFC East next week. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Patriots, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Patriots, vs. Falcons, vs. Jets 

Miami Dolphins

What to know: Here come the Dolphins to play spoiler in the AFC playoff picture. Miami has won four in a row, but still remains 13th in the conference (the AFC has 12 teams at .500 or better). The Dolphins basically have to win out in order to make the playoffs, but can make things interesting with their schedule coming up. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Giants, Bye Week, vs. Jets, at Saints, at Titans, vs. Patriots

New York Jets

What to know:  A win over the Texans catapults the Jets to 14th in the conference. New York is still mathematically in the playoff race, but the Jets are in a better battle for a top-five draft pick. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Eagles, vs. Saints, at Dolphins, vs. Jaguars, vs. Buccaneers, at Bills

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

What to know: The Ravens have the No. 1 seed in the AFC after their win over the Browns on “Sunday Night Football.” Baltimore also leads Cincinnati by one game in the AFC North. 

Remaining schedule: at Steelers, at Browns, vs. Packers, at Bengals, vs. Rams, vs. Steelers 

Cincinnati Bengals

What to know: A dominant win over the Steelers has Cincinnati in prime position for a playoff spot in the loaded AFC. The Bengals currently have the No. 5 seed in the conference, owning a conference tiebreaker over the Bills based on having a better conference record. They are one game up on the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos for the final playoff spot. 

Remaining schedule:  vs. Chargers, at 49ers, at Broncos, vs. Ravens, vs. Chiefs, at Browns 

Pittsburgh Steelers

What to know: The Steelers’ playoff chances took a massive hit with the blowout loss to the Bengals. Pittsburgh is 11th in the conference standings, a half game out of the final playoff spot behind the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Chiefs, vs. Browns, at Ravens 

Cleveland Browns 

What to know: The Browns falling to the Ravens on “Sunday Night Football” kept them out of the playoff picture in the AFC. Cleveland is 12th in the conference, a half game out of the final playoff spot. The Steelers own the tiebreaker over the Browns for 11th based on beating them earlier this year. 

Remaining schedule: Bye Week, vs. Ravens, vs. Raiders, at Packers, at Steelers, vs. Bengals 

AFC South

Tennessee Titans 

What to know:  The Titans retain their commanding first place lead in the AFC South, even with a loss to the Patriots. Tennessee is up two games in the division with five to play and the Titans swept Indianapolis. The Titans are the No. 3 seed in the AFC, falling out of the top spot after the loss. 

Remaining schedule: Bye Week, vs. Jaguars, at Steelers, vs. 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Texans 

Indianapolis Colts

What to know: The Colts’ loss to the Buccaneers put them back at .500 — out of the AFC playoff race for now. Indianapolis is 10th in the conference, a half game out of the final playoff spot. The Colts own the tiebreaker over the Steelers based on having a better win percentage in conference games. Pittsburgh winning the tiebreaker over Cleveland puts Indianapolis ahead of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. 

Remaining schedule:  at Texans, Bye Week, vs. Patriots, at Cardinals, vs. Raiders, at Jaguars

Houston Texans

What to know: The Texans are 15th in the AFC standings, yet hold the tiebreaker over the Jaguars after beating Jacksonville in Week 1. They are in contention for a top-five draft pick. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Colts, vs. Seahawks, at Jaguars, vs. Chargers, at 49ers, vs. Titans

Jacksonville Jaguars

What to know: The Jaguars are 16th in the AFC conference standings, last in the conference and in prime position to land a top-five draft pick. 

Remaining schedule: at Rams, at Titans, vs. Texans, at Jets, at Patriots, vs. Colts

AFC West





















Kansas City Chiefs

What to know: The Chiefs were idle this week and retain their AFC West lead as a result of the Chargers losing to the Broncos. Kansas City is currently the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff race and will remain at that spot heading into Week 13. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Broncos, vs. Raiders, at Chargers, vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers

What to know: An opportunity blown for the Chargers in a blowout loss to the Broncos, yet Los Angeles remains in one of the wild card spots in part of a complicated tiebreaker procedure. Los Angeles wins the tiebreaker over Denver and Las Vegas based on best win percentage in division games, which is why the Raiders are second in the division and No. 7 in the AFC. 

Remaining schedule: at Bengals, vs. Giants, vs. Chiefs, at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders 

Las Vegas Raiders

What to know: The Raiders are No. 8 in the AFC playoff standings, losing a tiebreaker to the Chargers due to falling to them earlier this year. The Chargers also have the best division record out of the three AFC West teams at 6-5. The Raiders have the tiebreaker over the Broncos after beating the Broncos earlier this year. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Washington, at Chiefs, at Browns, vs. Broncos, at Colts, vs. Chargers

Denver Broncos

What to know: Denver is No. 9 in the AFC at 6-5, having the same record as Los Angeles and Las Vegas — but losing both division tiebreakers to those teams. They’re still a factor in the AFC playoff race. 

Remaining schedule: at Chiefs, vs. Lions, vs. Bengals, at Raiders, at Chargers, vs. Chiefs 

NFC East





















Dallas Cowboys

What to know: The Cowboys were upset by the Raiders on Thanksgiving, but maintain their commanding lead in the NFC East thanks to the Eagles falling to the Giants. Dallas is the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs heading into Week 13. 

Remaining schedule: at Saints, at Washington, at Giants, vs. Washington, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles 

Washington Football Team 

What to know: Washington is the No. 7 seed in the NFC after its win over Seattle Monday night. Washington is tied with Atlanta and Minnesota for the final playoff spot, but holds the tiebreaker over Atlanta and Minnesota based on best win percentage in conference games. Since Atlanta beat New Orleans, that eliminates the Saints from the tiebreaker (who also has a 5-6 record). 

Remaining schedule: at Raiders, vs. Cowboys, at Eagles, at Cowboys, vs. Eagles, at Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

What to know: Any outside chance of the Eagles winning the NFC East were abolished with a loss to the Giants Sunday. Philadelphia remains 2.5 games behind Dallas in the division, and the Eagles took a huge hit in their wild card hopes too. The Eagles fell to 11th in the NFC playoff standings, but are still a half game behind Washington for the final playoff spot. 

Remaining schedule: at Jets, Bye Week, vs. Washington, vs. Giants, at Washington, vs. Cowboys

New York Giants 

What to know: The Giants’ season is not dead yet following an upset win over the Eagles. New York is a game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC, yet the Giants are 13th in the conference standings (win a tiebreaker over the Bears based on better conference win percentage). 

Remaining schedule: at Dolphins, at Chargers, vs. Cowboys, at Eagles, at Bears, vs. Washington

NFC North





















Green Bay Packers

What to know:  The Packers extended their NFC North lead with a big win over the Rams in Week 12, compiled with a Vikings loss to the 49ers. Green Bay is the No. 2 seed in the NFC, a half game behind Arizona for the top spot. 

Remaining schedule: Bye Week, vs. Bears, at Ravens, vs. Browns, vs. Vikings, at Lions

Minnesota Vikings

What to know: The Vikings are the No. 8 seed in the NFC playoffs after their loss to the 49ers Sunday. Thank the Eagles and the Panthers for also falling in Week 12. 

How do the Vikings own the No. 8 seed over the Falcons and Saints (all three teams have 5-6 records)? Minnesota owns the tiebreaker over Atlanta based on best win percentage in conference games and the Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints. The Vikings lost the tiebreaker to Washington for the No. 7 seed due to Washington having a better conference record. 

Remaining schedule: at Lions, vs. Steelers, at Bears, vs. Rams, at Packers, vs. Bears

Chicago Bears

What to know: The Bears are one game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC, yet are 14th in the conference. The Giants actually are a game out too and own a better conference record over the Bears, thus holding the tiebreaker. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Cardinals, at Packers, vs. Vikings, at Seahawks, vs. Giants, at Vikings 

Detroit Lions

What to know: The Lions still don’t have a win after their Thanksgiving loss. They’re in prime position for the No. 1 draft pick. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Vikings, at Broncos, vs. Cardinals, at Falcons, at Seahawks, vs. Packers

NFC South





















Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What to know: A win over the Colts extended the Buccaneers’ lead over the Saints in the NFC South. Tampa Bay is No. 3 in the NFC standings, a game behind Arizona for the top spot in the conference. 

Remaining schedule: at Falcons, vs. Bills, vs. Saints, at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers

Atlanta Falcons

What to know: The Falcons are No. 9 in the NFC playoffs after beating the Jaguars, taking advantage of many NFC teams falling in Week 12. They own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints, but they aren’t the No. 7 seed due to a conference record tiebreaker going to Washington first — then the Vikings. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Buccaneers, at Panthers, at 49ers, vs. Lions, at Bills, vs. Saints

New Orleans Saints

What to know: A loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving put the Saints out of the NFC playoff picture. The Saints are now No. 10 in the conference after their fourth straight loss, losing a tiebreaker to Washington (conference record) and the Vikings (conference record) and the Falcons (head-to-head). The head-to-head loss to Atlanta eliminates New Orleans from the three-way tiebreaker on conference record. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Cowboys, at Jets, at Buccaneers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Panthers, at Falcons

Carolina Panthers

What to know: The Panthers fall to 12th in the NFC playoff race after their loss to the Dolphins, losing a head-to-head tiebreaker to the Eagles for 11th. They are still a half game out of the final playoff spot. 

Remaining schedule: Bye Week, vs. Falcons, at Bills, vs. Buccaneers, at Saints, at Buccaneers

NFC West





















Arizona Cardinals

What to know: The Cardinals were idle this week and hold the top spot in the NFC playoffs. They lead the Packers by a half game, with Green Bay owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. 

Remaining schedule: at Bears, vs. Rams, at Lions, vs. Colts, at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks

Los Angeles Rams

What to know:  The Rams losing to the Packers put them two games behind the Cardinals for the NFC West lead — and Arizona has a win over them. They’re still in excellent shape to make the playoffs, sitting at the No. 5 seed and two games up on the final playoff spot. 

Remaining schedule: vs. Jaguars, at Cardinals, vs. Seahawks, at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

What to know: The 49ers are now the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs after their third straight win. They are one game behind the Rams for the No. 5 spot with the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand. 

Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, at Bengals, vs. Falcons, at Titans, vs. Texans, at Rams

Seattle Seahawks

What to know: Seattle lost to Washington on “Monday Night Football” to fall two games out of the final playoff spot, which belongs to Washington (so the Football Team has the head-to-head tiebreaker).The Seahawks are 15th in the NFC with their top-five bound draft pick going to the Jets. 

Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers, at Texans, at Rams, vs. Bears, vs. Lions, at Cardinals 

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