NFL Playoff Picture 2021: Updated AFC, NFC Standings Following Week 13 SNF

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew celebrates with fans after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

The early slate of NFL games on Sunday had some wild matchups, improbable results and offered clarity on the playoff picture as we enter the final stretch of the season.

Below, we'll take a look at the updated standings and break down all the implications of the day's early and late-afternoon results.

AFC Standings

1. New England Patriots (8-4)

2. Tennessee Titans (8-4)

3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)

4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

5. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

6. Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)

7. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)

9. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)

11. Cleveland Browns (6-6)

12. Denver Broncos (6-6)

13. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

14. New York Jets (3-9)

15. Houston Texans (2-10)

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)

NFC Standings

1. Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

5. Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

6. Washington Football Team (6-6)

7. San Francisco 49ers (6-6)

8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

9. Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

10. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

11. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

12. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

13. New York Giants (4-8)

14. Chicago Bears (4-8)

15. Seattle Seahawks (4-8)

16. Detroit Lions (1-10-1)


While there will be more clarity in the playoff picture after Sunday and Monday night—namely in the AFC East, with the Patriots and Bills battling on Monday Night Football for first place in the division—there was certainly plenty to be learned from the early and late-afternoon games Sunday.

The Cardinals, for instance, still control the top overall seed in the NFC after a convincing 33-22 win over the Bears. In fact, the early slate of games didn't change the first four seeds in the AFC or the first six seeds in the NFC in the slightest.

But things sure got interesting from there.

In the AFC, the Chargers' huge 41-22 win over the Bengals bumped the Bills up to the No. 5 seed in the playoff picture after they started the day at No. 6, while the Chargers moved up to No. 6 and the Bengals fell to No. 7.


Chargers with the scoop-n-score❗️<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/0Oar9IzIvn">pic.twitter.com/0Oar9IzIvn</a>

The wild-card berths are going to come down to the wire. Currently, just 1.5 games separate the No. 6 Chargers from the No. 13 Dolphins, who have now won five in a row.

Aditi Kinkhabwala @AKinkhabwala

I saw the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ravens?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ravens</a> annihilate the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chargers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chargers</a>. Then I witnessed the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> pound the Ravens. And now the Chargers have taken it to the Bengals. Will someone tell me what circular theorem that is b/c I have no idea... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AFC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AFC</a>

And don't sleep on the Colts, winners of six of their last eight.

In the NFC, the current battle for the No. 7 seed got more interesting, as the Eagles bolstered their chances with a Gardner Minshew-led win over the hapless Jets, while the Giants and Bears likely fell out of contention at 4-8 apiece and the Vikings dropped a winnable matchup versus the Lions.

Sunday Night Football on NBC @SNFonNBC

THE GAME WINNER FOR THE LIONS. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OnePride?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OnePride</a> <br><br>(Via: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>) <a href="https://t.co/stWPhGgpgP">pic.twitter.com/stWPhGgpgP</a>

John Clark @JClarkNBCS

Eagles have rushed for 175+ yards in 6 straight games<br><br>First time since 1949. 72 years ago<br><br>Eagles are 6-7<br><br>Eagles right now are in the 7th and final playoff spot. They need Washington to lose to stay there<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/1O8hLrm55C">pic.twitter.com/1O8hLrm55C</a>

Just one game separates the No. 6 Washington Football Team from the No. 12 Saints. Washington's win, coupled with San Francisco's loss, moved Washington up to the No. 6 spot. Like the AFC, the NFC is all bunched up in the wild-card chase.

As for the "race" to the top overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Lions remain peerless, still holding a grip on the selection with 1-10-1 record. The Texans and Jaguars are trying to make up ground, however, each dropping to 2-10 on the year. They now find themselves just a half-game back of the Lions after Detroit's stunning 29-27 win over the Vikings on Sunday.