Sunday, August 1
Shadow

NFL playoff picture after Week 12: Titans take control in AFC South – USA TODAY

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks after Week 12’s Sunday games. (Note: the postseason field expands to 14 teams this season and could potentially go to 16 if the league’s schedule is thrown into disarray down the stretch by COVID-19 disruptions.)

NFC

1. New Orleans Saints (9-2), NFC South leaders: They rolled through a severely depleted Broncos squad 31-3 to maintain their grip on home-field advantage and the conference’s lone bye.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3), NFC North leaders: Sunday night’s blowout of Chicago moved them past Seattle for the second spot, though it could revert back to the Seahawks by close of business Monday.

3. Seattle Seahawks (7-3), NFC West leaders: The Rams’ loss moves the ‘Hawks all the way to third. Beat Philadelphia on Monday night, and Seattle climbs a spot given its strength of victory tiebreaker on the Pack.

4. New York Giants (4-7), NFC East leaders: Winners of three in a row, they wrested division lead from Washington (4-7) due to season sweep of the Football Team. However if Eagles (3-6-1) win Monday night, Philadelphia reclaims first place.

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4), wild card No. 1:  A last-second loss to the 49ers knocks L.A. out of the division lead and staring at a tough road game at Arizona.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5), wild card No. 2:  Losers three times in their past four contests, the Bucs need their upcoming bye to regroup before a stretch run that currently includes four games against sub-.500 opponents.

7. Arizona Cardinals (6-5), wild card No. 3: They’ve also dropped three of four, falling off the pace in NFC West race and suddenly in danger of missing postseason entirely.

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-6), first team out of field: With a head-to-head win against the Bears and a better conference record than San Francisco, the Vikes are sitting prettiest of the NFC’s 5-6 clubs … if the league winds up expanding the field at season’s end.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates returning an onside kick for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts with wide receiver Cameron Batson (13) and lDaren Bates in the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.

AFC

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0), AFC North leaders: Still on track for league’s second-ever 16-0 regular season as well as home-field advantage if they can hold off K.C. by beating Baltimore on Tuesday night.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1), AFC West leaders: They survived in Tampa to maintain pressure on the undefeated Steelers for the top seed.

3. Tennessee Titans (8-3), AFC South leaders: Big win in Indianapolis on Sunday vaulted them back into division lead and past Buffalo, whom Titans crushed in Week 4, for No. 3 spot.

4. Buffalo Bills (8-3), AFC East leaders: Outlasted Chargers but only held serve in division as Dolphins, Patriots – both won Sunday – remain in pursuit. Bills last won AFC East in 1995.

5. Cleveland Browns (8-3), wild card No. 1: They barely escaped from Jacksonville, however the win moves Brownies closer to first playoff berth since 2002. Tough game in Nashville looms for Week 13, but franchise enjoying best start record-wise since its 1999 reboot.

6. Miami Dolphins (7-4), wild card No. 2: A 4-3 record in conference games moves them past Indy. Fins have only been to postseason once since 2009.

7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4), wild card No. 3: Tumbled from AFC South lead almost all the way out of the field Sunday after loss to Titans. Indy will be on outside looking in if Ravens, who won at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 9, upset Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-4), first team out of field: They’re dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and a slumping offense all at once. But beating the Steelers will give Baltimore a good enough conference record at 5-4 to join Miami as second wild card among AFC’s 7-4 teams.  

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders. Do the right thing, sign up now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *