NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture after Week 12 of 2021 season

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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:

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NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture after Week 12 of 2021 season
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NFL standings for Week 12

AFC playoff picture

Who would be in?

1. Baltimore Ravens (8-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens made sure to stay ahead of the Patriots in the race for the No. 1 seed and the Bengals for the division lead by beating the Browns at home on Sunday night. Balitmore still has a tough slate ahead but is finding ways to win even when not at its best on either side of the ball. The Ravens still have four division games left and two daunting NFC foes awaiting. Remaining schedule: at PIT, at CLE, vs. GB, at CIN, vs. LAR, vs. PIT

2. New England Patriots (8-4), first place, AFC East. The Patriots matched the Bills’ result of Week 12 to jump back on top in the division by a half-game. They are behind the Ravens with a lesser winning percentage having played more two games. Their win over the Titans gave them the tiebreaker for No, 2, too. Remaining schedule: vs. BUF, BYE, at IND, vs. BUF, vs. JAX, at MIA

3. Tennessee Titans (8-4), first place, AFC South. The Titans slipped from No. 1 with their loss to the Patriots, falling a full game behind the Ravens and and staying only a half-game ahead of the Chiefs, whom they beat earlier in the season, along with the Bills. The Titans still don’t need to worry about the Remaining schedule: BYE, vs. JAX, at PIT, vs. SF, vs. MIA, at HOU

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 get a much-needed bye in Week 12. Remaining schedule: vs.DEN, vs. LV, at LAC, vs. PIT, at CIN, at DEN

5. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4), second place, AFC North. The Bengals have surged back into wild-card and division playoff contention with key consecutive big wins over the Raiders and Steelers after the bye. They beat the Ravens on the road earlier and can end up in first place if the Ravens lose to the Browns. They hold the tiebreaker for this spot over the Bills with a better conference record. There is nothing easy left on the slate, however. Remaining schedule: vs. LAC, vs. SF, at DEN, vs. BAL, vs. KC, at CLE

6. Buffalo Bills (7-4), second place, AFC East. The Bills dropped down here after their win over the Saints because the Patriots responded by taking care of the Titans. They will get their shot to catch and pass the Patriots next Monday night. Other than New England twice, Buffalo has a big challenge left against Tampa Bay. Remaining schedule: vs. NE, at TB, vs. CAR, at NE, vs. ATL, NYJ.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5), second place, AFC West. The Chargers lost badly to the Broncos on the road to blow a big opportunity to maintain the pace with the Bengals, Raiders and Bills winning. They get a head-to-head shot with the Bengals with a chance to move up in Week 13. Remaining schedule: at CIN, vs. NYG, vs. KC, at HOU, vs. DEN, at LV

Who can get there?

8. Denver Broncos (6-5)

9. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

10. Indianapols Colts (6-6)

11. Cleveland Browns (6-6)

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)

The Raiders won to help themselves in Week 12, while the Steelers and Colts lost to fall behind them. The Browns wasted a big opportunity against the Ravnes on Sunday night, while the Broncos took advantage of theirs against the Chargers.

Who’s set to be out?

13. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

14. New York Jets (3-8)

15. Houston Texans (2-9)

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

The Dolphins have won four consecutive games after a 1-7 start in a climb toward respectability, but it’s too little, too late for a playoff push. The Jets separated themselves from the bottom two with a win over the Texans and they still also play the Jaguars.

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NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture after Week 12 of 2021 season
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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 are enjoying a bye in Week 12. Remaining schedule: at CHI, vs LAR, at DET, vs. IND, at DAL, vs. SEA

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3), first place, NFC North. The Packers took care of business against the Rams to move within a half-game of the idle Cardinals, whom they beat, for the top seed. In the process, they also helped the Cardinals grow a bigger lead in their division. Now they can rest up. and hope the Cardinals get upset by the Bears in Week 13. Remaining schedule: BYE, vs. CHI, at BAL, vs. CLE, vs. MIN, at DET

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3), first place, NFC South. The Buccaneers used Week 12’s win over the Colts to push closer to the top seed. They again jumped the Cowboys, who lost, and are behind the Packers for No. 2 with a lesser conference record. Tampa Bay needed the second straight victory badly after losing two consecutive games around a bye with Tom Brady having rare interception woes. Remaining schedule: at ATL, vs. BUF, vs. NO, at CAR, at NYJ, vs. CAR

4. 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 schedule: at NO, at WAS, at NYG, vs. WAS, vs. ARI, at PHI

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4), second place, NFC West. The Rams lost their third consecutive game and they had a disappointing result with more of struggling Matthew Stafford after a bye in Green Bay. They are now two full games behind the Cardinals and only a game ahead of the 49ers, who Remaining schedule: vs. JAX, at ARI, vs. SEA, at MIN, at BAL, vs SF

6. San Francisco 49ers (6-5), third place, NFC West. The 49ers beat the Vikings for their third consecutive victory and four in the past five games, surging from a slow start into solid playoff position for Kyle Shanahan despite playing in a tough division. They jumped the Vikings and put more pressure on the Rams for the top wild card from the West. They get another break with the reeling last place Seahawks before a key interconference road game against the Bengals. Remaining schedule: at SEA, at CIN, vs. ATL, at TEN, vs. HOU,  at LAR

7. Washington Football Team (5-6), second place, NFC East. Washington got into the final NFC playoff position at a game under .500 with the win over the Seahawks on Monday night to close Week 12 thanks to a stellar conference record of 5-2. Ron Rivera’s team is no stranger to this kind of situation, having won the division with a losing record in 2020. WFT is also only two games behind Dallas with the season series still ahead. Remaining schedule: at LV, vs. DAL, at PHI, at DAL, vs. PHI, at NYG

Who can get there?

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

9. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)

10. New Orleans Saints (5-6)

11. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

12. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

13. New York Giants (4-7)

14. Chicago Bears (4-7)

15. Seattle Seahawks (3-8)

The Vikings fell here after losing at San Francisco and Washington winning on Monday night. The Falcons beat the Jaguars to jump the Saints, whom they beat on the road earlier. The Eagles lost to the Giants, giving them the same record as the losing the Panthers. The Giants’ win allowed them to jump the Bears, who beat the Lions on Thanksgiving. The Seahawks are done barring a miraculous six-game turnaround.

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.

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