The Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts both dramatically improved their playoff chances with road victories on Sunday.
Not everyone was so fortunate.
With Week 13 in the books, each conference's wild-card race has become slightly more clear. The NFC is a virtual 12-team race, whereas the AFC features seven teams vying for playoff contention.
Which of these teams will fall short and miss the postseason?
Upcoming Schedule: vs. Dallas, @ Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Baltimore
After squeaking out a win in San Diego this week, the Bengals' playoff odds improved. Unfortunately for them, their division rival, the Steelers, also won.
Both have 7-5 records; however, Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker by beating Cincinnati earlier this year. Cincinnati trails Indianapolis by one game.
I can see the Bengals taking their next two games, but the final two will be difficult to win. To realistically have a shot at making the playoffs, the Bengals will need to beat Pittsburgh and also win two of the other three.
Seems to be asking a lot for this team.
Remaining Schedule: @ N.Y. Giants, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Dallas, vs. Carolina
Consecutive losses have cracked the playoff window for the Saints.
Technically, the Saints can make the playoffs if they win out and get some help. The help, in this case, would need to be substantial as the Saints have struggled against NFC teams, which affects them by means of tiebreakers.
Losing their opener to Washington, another playoff candidate, in combination with losing to Kansas City, a downtrodden opponent (to be polite), are losses that will have detrimental consequences for the Saints in 2012.
Remaining Schedule: @ Buffalo, vs. Minnesota, @ Tampa Bay, @ Seattle
A month ago, the St. Louis Rams were in last place in their division, sitting at 3-5 in the visiting locker room of Candlestick Park, about to play the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers. Two wins, a tie and a loss later, the Rams are in the middle of the playoff picture.
It won't be easy for them to secure a playoff vacancy.
The Rams will need to win their four remaining games. That feat includes three road games, and the Rams have only won once on the road this season. They would have the tiebreaker against the 49ers, and by winning their Week 17 matchup in Seattle, they would have the advantage over Seahawks.
However, in combination with winning out, the Rams would need the Seahawks to lose one other game and the 49ers to lose three times to win the NFC West.
Winning a wild-card spot would be nearly as difficult. The Rams have already lost to Chicago and Green Bay. Their best shot is to get a lot of help and beat Seattle in Week 17, a team that is 5-0 at home this season, to earn the second wild-card spot.
It's not impossible for the Rams to make the playoffs, which in of itself speaks volumes to the job Jeff Fisher has done in St. Louis, but I don't suggest Rams fans should expect to see their team in the postseason.
Remaining Schedule: @ Cincinnati, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New Orleans, @ Washington
Despite a nice come-from-behind victory Sunday night against the Eagles, the Cowboys' path to the playoffs is an uphill climb.
Next week they have a tough road opponent in Cincinnati, which has won four straight games, and the following weeks don't get any easier as every team remaining on the Cowboys' schedule is in playoff contention.
Tiebreakers are not friendly to Dallas, either. They lost head-to-head matchups against both Seattle and Chicago, two teams ahead of them in the wild-card race.
Dallas will need to win out and get some help.
So you're saying there's a chance? Yes, but the chance is microscopic.
Remaining Schedule: vs. Chicago, @ St. Louis, @ Houston, vs. Green Bay
Despite a Herculean effort from Adrian Peterson, the Vikings lost for the fourth time in five games.
Next week, the Vikings face the Bears, who just a week ago handled Minnesota. As far as tiebreakers, the Vikings have lost to Tampa Bay, Seattle and Washington, which devastates their chances.
The Vikings will need to win out to make the playoffs. With that schedule, that is asking too much for this inconsistent team.
Remaining Schedule: vs. Philadelphia, @ New Orleans, vs. St. Louis, @ Atlanta
Two weeks ago, on the heels of a four-game winning streak, Tampa had legitimate playoff aspirations. Now, after consecutive losses, the Bucs are on the outside of the wild-card race looking in.
The Bucs trail the Bears by two games and Seattle by one. They lost head-to-head to both Washington and Dallas, which hurts them in the tiebreaker department.
The remaining schedule is manageable, especially considering the Falcons could rest their starters in Week 17. However, given their tiebreaker handicaps and the difficulty of winning four straight games in the NFL, regardless of the opponents, it's hard to picture the Bucs in the postseason.
Remaining Schedule: vs. Baltimore, @ Cleveland, @ Philadelphia, vs. Dallas
Sunday wasn't friendly to Washington's playoff chances. Seattle's upset victory over Chicago impacted the idle Redskins. Even with a victory against the Giants, the Redskins are a game behind Seattle and two games behind Chicago.
Considering tiebreakers, the Redskins' best opportunity for securing a playoff vacancy would be to catch the Giants for the division crown.