NFL playoff picture 2021 - Standings, bracket after Thanksgiving games, plus Week 12 outlook

Welcome to an unique Thanksgiving Day edition of our NFL playoff photo. If you kept just one eye on the video games, and even if you enjoyed them carefully, we have a lot to talk about. The results of 2 matches shocked the playoff standings in both conferences. Among the takeaways:

  • The Buffalo Bills restored supremacy in the AFC East, a minimum of momentarily. The Bills, obviously, might be back amongst the wild-card competitors if the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

  • The Bills’ win over the New Orleans Saints raised the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re presently No. 7 in the NFC standings, while the Saints’ 4th successive loss has them searching for at the NFC field.

  • The Las Vegas Raiders’ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them back in contention to move into the AFC wild-card race need to an existing competitor fail.

  • The Cowboys’ lead in the NFC East isn’t yet threatened, however the rising Philadelphia Eagles can no longer be marked down in the department race.

We’ve upgraded those circumstances and more listed below. Look for another upgrade after Sunday’s video games as Week 12 continues.

Jump to: AFC | NFC


No group has actually exhibited this unforeseeable season much better than the Titans, who won 7 of their very first 9 video games regardless of dealing with the NFL’s most challenging schedule over that stretch. They then started a a lot easier schedule, just to suffer a spectacular house loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat permitted the Colts to continue closing the space in the AFC South, diminishing the Titans’ cause 2 video games with 6 to play. (Tennessee won both head-to-head matches with Indianapolis.) Regardless of whether the Colts can capture them, it’s challenging to see the Titans as the well-defined AFC favorite when 2 of their losses have actually concerned the Texans and Jets — who have a combined record of 4-16. And now the Patriots, probably the most popular group in the league, await them on Sunday.

Next up: at Patriots

Even without quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens handled to preserve their hang on top place in the AFC North. They have not been quite for a while, having actually lost to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an overtime win over the Vikings over the previous month. But possibly that’s simply how it’s going to be for them.

Next up: vs. Browns

Will a persuading win Thursday in the Superdome suffice to pull the Bills out of a midseason spiral? They gotten in Week 12 having actually lost 2 of their previous 3 video games, consisting of a mysterious defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-point loss to the Colts. The Bills much better hope they have actually figured things out, since they will head into a ruthless stretch of their schedule. They will play the red-hot Patriots two times in 4 weeks, with a video game at the Buccaneers combined therein, also. But for a couple of days, a minimum of, they have actually gone back to the top of the AFC East.

Next up: vs Patriots (Week 13)



Josh Allen discovers Dawson Knox for his 2nd goal of the video game versus New Orleans.

The Chiefs are rolling off their 4th successive triumph, a streak that has actually brought them from listed below .500 to atop the AFC West. There does not appear to be much doubt that the Chiefs will be amongst the 7 groups representing the AFC in the playoffs, and most likely than not, they will be the AFC West champ.

Next up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)

It took the Patriots less than 2 months to recuperate from their 1-3 start and even quickly supplant the Bills atop the AFC East. The Bills recovered top place with a Thanksgiving win over the Saints, however the Patriots will retake the position if they beat the Titans in Week 12. Five successive wins — and 6 in their previous 7 video games — have actually not just provided a department benefit however likewise put them within affordable series of the front runner in the AFC. It’s all in front of them now. The Patriots have a fortuitous house video game versus the AFC-leading Titans today then play the Bills two times in a three-game stretch next month. If you’re evaluating postseason seedings by how groups are dipping into the minute, it’s challenging to look past the Patriots as the best-situated group in the AFC (today, obviously).

Next up: vs. Titans

There was a time when great deals of individuals were fretted about Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s health in returning from last season’s knee injury. Through 10 video games, we can state that the issue was primarily unproven. Just making it through 10 video games didn’t appear a certainty when the season started, however he has the Bengals’ offense humming, most just recently with a 32-point outburst in Week 11’s triumph over the Raiders. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is providing the Bengals approximately a 50-50 opportunity of making the playoffs, however in a wide-open AFC, they have actually definitely put themselves in position to be in the December discussion.

Next up: vs. Steelers

The Chargers did whatever they might to fall out of the AFC’s leading 7 in Week 11, however in the greatest indication yet that they are turning a corner under coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers stopped doing Chargers things enough time to retake the lead. There is still a lot to question about the Chargers, most especially their unique groups, however they revealed they are to be taken seriously in the AFC playoff race.

Next up: at Broncos

In the AFC hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)

The Steelers are winless in their previous 2 video games and are now out of the AFC’s leading 7. It will not get any much easier when they take a trip to Cincinnati this weekend.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

The Colts have actually won 3 successive video games and 5 of their previous 6, however prior to Week 11, the quality of the groups they beat wasn’t too remarkable. That altered with a blowout triumph at Buffalo. The Colts are trending in all the ideal instructions, and the Buccaneers are their next test.

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

We can do absolutely nothing however pointer our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide appeared well in progress throughout a three-game losing streak going into Thursday’s video game at the Cowboys. They entered into AT&T Stadium and won a war of attrition, and now have 10 days to get ready for a winnable house video game versus Washington in Week 13.



Anthony Brown is whistled for a pass disturbance charge, which sets the Raiders up for Daniel Carlson’s winning basket in overtime.

Cleveland Browns (6-5)

It’s unbelievable that the Browns have actually won 6 video games provided the apparent effect quarterback Baker Mayfield’s left shoulder injury is having on his efficiency. Oh, and do not forget the untidy existence and departure of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. If you’re choosing one group to fall out of the wild-card race due to fatigue, it’s the Browns. They have a trip to Baltimore on deck.

Denver Broncos (5-5)

The Broncos will return from a bye with a .500 record, however successive video games versus the Chargers and Chiefs will likely knock them even more from the AFC wild-card race.


Let’s pointer our cap to the Cardinals, who have actually taken a trip rather a journey because their last-minute loss in Week 8 to the Packers. Playing without quarterback Kyler Murray and pass receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they have actually gone 2-1 with wins at department competitors San Francisco and Seattle. The Cardinals have actually ended up being the 4th group in NFL history to begin a season 6-0 in roadway video games and will get their MVP-caliber quarterback back faster than later on. FPI is calling them a virtual lock to make the playoffs and providing a much better than 90% opportunity to win the NFC West.

Next up: at Bears (Week 13)

In most circumstances, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers are a genuine Super Bowl competitor. But what should we state about a Packers group that is losing crucial gamers to injury on a weekly basis? They are still in truly good condition in the NFC North, leading the Vikings by 2½ video games, with a Week 17 match versus Minnesota at Lambeau Field looming. But at least, the Packers’ depth is going to be checked throughout December football.

Next up: vs. Rams

The protecting Super Bowl champs broke a slightly disconcerting two-game losing streak on Monday night with a persuading win over the Giants, a group that got in the video game ranked No. 23 in the NFL with approximately 18.9 offending points per video game. The lane is there for a high seed in the NFC bracket, as their staying schedule consists of just 2 groups with winning records (the Colts and Bills).

Next up: vs. Colts

Uh-oh. The Cowboys were anticipated to remove as soon as they got quarterback Dak Prescott back from injury. Instead, they have actually lost 3 of their previous 4 video games. Their lead in the NFC East is not yet threatened; the Eagles would still be 2 video games behind in the loss column even if they beat the Giants on Sunday. But it stays an open concern whether the Cowboys will head into the playoffs as a real competitor or will remain in the postseason just since they’re the least-flawed group in a weak department.

Next up: at Saints (Week 13)



A referee takes a fall as Tony Pollard takes the kick return 100 backyards to your home.

It has actually been a fast tumble for the “all-in” Rams, who have actually fallen from the leading area in the NFC to the wild-card photo with 2 successive losses. Regardless, the Rams’ Week 11 bye came at a great time. They had 2 weeks to get newbies Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. more accustomed to their program, in addition to determining why quarterback Matthew Stafford has actually tossed 4 interceptions throughout the two-game skid. They much better hope they get it determined, since their upcoming schedule consists of not just the Packers however the Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens and 49ers. That will be a difficult run.

Next up: at Packers

When you appear to play close video games each week, the mathematics states you need to a minimum of win a few of them. The Vikings’ Week 11 triumph over the Packers increased their department and conference records. Both are crucial classifications for tiebreakers, and their 4-2 NFC record is the factor they lead the Saints and 49ers (whom they play next week) in the NFC playoff standings. Overall, the Vikings have actually played in 7 successive video games that have actually been chosen by 7 or less points, a stretch that either has actually solidified them for a playoff run or will eventually cost them entryway into the postseason entirely.

Next up: at 49ers

The 49ers have actually won 3 of their previous 4, and they had the ability to leapfrog the Saints in the wild-card race following Thursday’s action. No one can state with certainty whether the 49ers are really a playoff group, however in some cases these matters get chosen in the postseason. Their staying strength of schedule ranks No. 25 in the league. One caution to remember is that the Eagles, another NFC wild-card rival, have the NFL’s most convenient staying schedule.

Next up: vs. Vikings

In the NFC hunt

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

The Eagles likewise have actually won 3 of their previous 4, all of which by more than 10 points. And when you see 2 video games each versus Washington and the Giants staying, in addition to a match versus the Jets, you see a quite beneficial schedule for remaining in the wild-card race. Philly has a roadway video game versus the Giants today.

Carolina Panthers (5-6)

Can the Panthers truly be a playoff competitor with a quarterback they signed out of complimentary company and placed into the beginning lineup within 2 weeks? Cam Newton may be Superman, however he isn’t a magician. Carolina will take a trip to play the Dolphins on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints (5-6)

That’s now 4 successive losses for the Saints because beginning quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury. Their offense had no punch Thursday night versus the Bills, and they’re now searching for at the NFC playoff field. They’ll play the Cowboys in Week 13, however the one intense area is that 4 of their last 6 challengers have losing records.

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