Week 12 of the NFL schedule began on Thanksgiving Day, with three key games shaking up the playoff picture and divisional standings. Sunday’s contests offered even more intrigue and down-to-the-wire finishes that will alter the playoff projection.
Let’s take a look at the updated NFL playoff picture and assess which teams enhanced or impaired their postseason chances on Sunday. For analysis of all the action from Week 12, scroll down below the standings.
NFL Playoff Picture for Week 12
Current AFC Playoff Picture
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
2. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
3. Tennessee Titans (7-4)
4. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
5. Buffalo Bills (8-3)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
7. New York Jets (7-4)
AFC: In the Hunt
8. New England Patriots (6-5)
9. Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
10. Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
12. Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)
13. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
14. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7)
15. Denver Broncos (3-8)
16. Houston Texans (1-9-1)
Current NFC Playoff Picture
1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
2. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
3. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
6. New York Giants (7-4)
7. Washington Commanders (7-5)
NFC: In the Hunt
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
9. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
10. Detroit Lions (4-7)
11. Green Bay Packers (4-8)
12. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
13. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
14. New Orleans Saints (4-8)
15. Los Angeles Rams (3-8)
16. Chicago Bears (3-9)
Bengals Get a Crucial Victory Over the Titans
With Ja’Marr Chase still sidelined, the Joe-Burrow-to-Tee-Higgins connection was on full display against the Titans. Higgins managed a 7-114-1 line as Cincinnati took down Tennessee 20-19, but it was the Bengals’ defensive effort that truly won them Sunday’s game.
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Lou Anarumo’s unit held Derrick Henry to just 38 yards on 17 carries, his second-lowest output of the year. Henry did get loose on a screen and nearly scored, but Bengals rookie Cam Taylor-Britt forced a fumble at the goal line. Titans receiver Treylon Burks just beat Jessie Bates to the rolling ball for Tennessee’s only touchdown.
Cincinnati and Baltimore now have the same 7-4 record, but the Ravens retain first place in the AFC North thanks to their head-to-head win earlier this year. Cincinnati will face a critical battle against the Chiefs in Week 13.
Ravens Blow Another Fourth-Quarter Lead
The Ravens had coughed up late leads in all three of their losses this season, and they did it again against the Jaguars on Sunday. Down nine points in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville scored 10 points in less than two minutes to take the lead with 4:19 remaining.
After hitting DeSean Jackson for 62 yards, Lamar Jackson found Josh Oliver for a TD with 2:02 left in the game, but Trevor Lawrence wasn’t done. The No. 1 overall pick in 2021 led a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with an incredible Marvin Jones Jr. touchdown catch. Doug Pederson went for two to take a 28-27 lead, and Justin Tucker couldn’t connect on a 67-yard field goal as time expired.
Baltimore will drop to the fourth seed in the AFC, and their division lead is extremely tenuous. Week 18’s Ravens-Bengals looks more important by the week.
Mike White Gets the Jets Back on Track
Zach Wilson won’t be retaking his starting job anytime soon. Mike White put on a clinic against the Bears, completing 22 of 28 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns as the Jets maintained their Wild Card positioning in the AFC.
Garrett Wilson had the juke of the year on one of his two touchdowns, while Elijah Moore — who asked to be traded earlier this season — also got in on the action with a score of his own.
MORE: Mike White Shows He Belongs
An injury to Michael Carter is concerning, especially given that fellow RB Breece Hall is already out for the year. But all in all, this was an outstanding offensive effort from Gang Green.
Chicago isn’t exactly the most difficult opponent, and White will have to prove his mettle against the Vikings and Bills over the next two weeks. For now, the Jets are the seventh seed in the AFC.
Dolphins Reclaim No. 2 Seed With Destruction of Texans
The final score was Dolphins 30, Texans 15, but the game was never that close. Miami led 30-0 at halftime, and Mike McDaniel could have pulled Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of the Dolphins’ starters even earlier than he did.
With their victory, Miami will move back into the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They’ll swap spots with the Bills, who will revert to the fifth seed thanks to the Dolphins’ head-to-head win earlier this year.
Miami still has a chance to usurp the Chiefs for the AFC’s top seed, but they’ll face an absolutely brutal schedule to end the season: at 49ers, at Chargers, at Bills, vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets.
Buccaneers Lose OT Heartbreaker to Browns
Making his final start for the Browns before Deshaun Watson returns from suspension, Jacoby Brissett took down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in an overtime thriller. With 32 seconds remaining in regulation, Brissett hit David Njoku for a fourth-down TD to tie the game at 17.
Both teams possessed the ball twice in overtime. On Cleveland’s second drive, Bucs corner Carlton Davis fell down, allowing Brissett to find Amari Cooper for a 46-yard gain to Tampa’s 2-yard line. Two plays later, Nick Chubb ended the contest with a touchdown.
The Buccaneers are back below .500 at 5-6, but they’re still in first place in the NFC South. They hold a half-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over the second-place Falcons. Assuming Tampa does sneak into the playoffs, it will almost surely be as the NFC’s fourth seed.
Commanders Win Third Straight, Remain in Wild Card Contention
Washington has now won three in a row and six of its last seven after holding on for a 19-13 win over the Falcons in Week 7. Kendall Fuller picked off Marcus Mariota in the end zone with 1:03 left to end Atlanta’s scoring threat, and a running-into-the-kicker penalty ended any chance the Falcons had to make a last-second comeback.
Taylor Heinicke’s only loss this season was a three-point defeat to the Vikings in Week 9, and he has the Commanders in line for a playoff spot. Washington is currently the NFC’s seventh seed following the Seahawks’ loss to the Raiders.
Chiefs Keep Rolling, Stick in No. 1 Seed
The Chiefs didn’t play their most impressive game on Sunday, but they were easily able to dispatch a far less talented team in the Rams. Kansas City’s defense held LA to 10 points and picked off third-string quarterback Bryce Perkins en route to a 26-10 victory.
Patrick Mahomes and Co. have won five straight and are still in command of the top seed in the AFC. They’re the heavy favorites to earn a first-round bye, but the Dolphins and Bills are still in contention for the No. 1 seed. Next week, the Chiefs will travel to Cincinnati for an AFC title game rematch.
Chargers Grab Come-From-Behind Win Over Cardinals
We’re so used to the Chargers collapsing in the fourth quarter that it’s almost surprising when they flip the script. Down seven points with 1:48 left, Justin Herbert led a seven-play scoring drive capped by an Austin Ekeler touchdown reception. Los Angeles subsequently converted a two-point conversion to win the game in regulation instead of heading to overtime.
The win doesn’t change the Chargers’ playoff position — they’re still in the ninth spot, fighting for a Wild Card berth with the Patriots, Jets, and Bengals. However, a loss would have been catastrophic and made a late-season run nearly impossible. LA gets a rematch against the Raiders in Week 13 before taking on the Dolphins in Week 14.
49ers Shut Out Saints To Retain NFC West Lead
A week after putting up 38 points over the Cardinals, the 49ers won in a very different way on Sunday. San Francisco’s elite defense shut out the Saints and held them to just 260 yards in a 13-0 win. The 49ers’ weak offensive effort was enough to give pause, but San Francisco’s win is evidence this club has several different paths to victory in any given week.
The 49ers have only played one elite offense this season — the Chiefs, who stomped SF 44-23 in Week 7. They’ll face another one in Week 13 when the Dolphins come to town.
Can San Francisco’s defense stop Tua Tagovailoa and all his weapons? And can Jimmy Garoppolo put up enough points to stay in the game?
Seahawks’ Defense Collapses as Seattle Loses Playoff Position
The Seahawks wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they started today, and they have their defense to thank for their loss to the NFC’s seventh seed. Seattle gave up 40 points and nearly 600 yards of offense to the Raiders in a devastating overtime loss that will push the Seahawks back to the No. 8 spot.
Geno Smith has no trouble putting up points, but the Seahawks’ defense isn’t playoff-caliber. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs posted 303 yards from scrimmage, tied for the eighth-most in NFL history.
Seattle gets the Rams and Panthers over the next two weeks, so they’ll have a chance to rebound from Sunday’s loss. But they no longer control their own destiny, and they’ll have to bank on the Commanders — who wrested the No. 7 seed from Seattle today — to slip up.