NFL Standings 2018: Week 13 Records, Playoff Scenarios, Wild-Card Picture

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 27, 2018

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez (50) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

The first two NFL playoff spots could be awarded as early as Sunday. 

Due to the separation the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have created in their respective divisions, they could officially secure their postseason places in Week 13. 

Qualifying for the playoffs won't be as easy for the other contenders, especially in the wild-card races in both conferences. 

In the AFC, six franchises are chasing the final wild-card spot with the Los Angeles Chargers set as the No. 5 seed, while five teams are locked in a fight for the two NFC wild-card positions. 


NFL Standings

AFC Division Leaders

1. Kansas City (9-2)

2. New England (8-3) 

3. Houston (8-3) 

4. Pittsburgh (7-3-1) 


AFC Wild-Card Race

5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) 

6. Baltimore (6-5) 

7. Indianapolis (6-5) 

8. Miami (5-6) 

9. Cincinnati (5-6) 

10. Denver (5-6) 

11. Tennessee (5-6)

12. Cleveland (4-6-1) 

13. Buffalo (4-7) 

14. Jacksonville (3-8) 

15. New York Jets (3-8) 

16. Oakland (2-9) 


NFC Division Leaders

1. New Orleans (10-1) 

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) 

3. Chicago (8-3) 

4. Dallas (6-5) 


NFC Wild-Card Race

5. Minnesota (6-4-1)

6. Washington (6-5) 

7. Seattle (6-5) 

8. Carolina (6-5) 

9. Philadelphia (5-6) 

10. Green Bay (4-6-1) 

11. Atlanta (4-7) 

12. Tampa Bay (4-7) 

13. Detroit (4-7) 

14. New York Giants (3-8) 

15. Arizona (2-9) 

16. San Francisco (2-9)

Playoff Scenarios

The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams can become the first two teams to qualify for the playoffs in Week 13. 

New Orleans clinches the NFC South title with a victory over Dallas and a Carolina loss to Tampa Bay. 

The Rams, who also have a four-game lead in the NFC West, can win their division by beating Detroit in Week 13. 

Sean McVay's team is able to clinch because it won both games against Seattle, which makes the four-game advantage feel like a five-game lead due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. 


Wild-Card Picture


Barring a December collapse, the Los Angeles Chargers will lock up the No. 5 seed in the AFC at some point before Week 17. 

Getting to that point won't be a cakewalk for Anthony Lynn's team, but as long it beats either Pittsburgh or Kansas City, or both, in the next three weeks, it'll have at least a one-game cushion on the other wild-card contenders going into the final two games against Baltimore and Denver. 

Baltimore could be playing for its playoff life at StubHub Center in Week 16, as it faces three road tests in the next four weeks culminating in the trip to take on the Chargers. 

Nick Wass/Associated Press

The good news for the Ravens is fellow 6-5 team Indianapolis also has a difficult December schedule that features Houston, Dallas and Tennessee. 

Currently, Baltimore holds the conference record tiebreaker over Indianapolis, and both teams have three remaining games with AFC foes. 

Looking past the Ravens and Colts, there's a mess of teams at 5-6 led by the Miami Dolphins, who own the conference record tiebreaker over Cincinnati, Denver and Tennessee.

Out of the four teams at 5-6, Denver's looked like the most inspiring franchise in recent weeks, and it has a wild-card elimination game in front of in in Week 13 against the Bengals, who are without quarterback Andy Dalton for the rest of the season. 

If Denver passes the road test in Cincinnati, it could slither its way into the No. 6 seed since it has San Francisco, Cleveland and Oakland on the schedule before a Week 17 home game with the Chargers. 

The Dolphins, Bengals and Titans can't be trusted as wild-card favorites at this point, as Miami's lost four of five, Cincinnati's dropped three in a row and Tennessee is riding a two-game losing streak. 



There will be more fluctuation in the NFC wild-card race in the coming weeks because of the situation in the NFC East. 

With Dallas in charge at the moment, Washington and Philadelphia are stuck fighting for a wild-card berth, but that alignment could be adjusted as early as Week 13, as Dallas takes on New Orleans and Philadelphia hosts Washington. 

Minnesota is in a unique position because of its tie with Green Bay, as it'll be on track to make the playoffs as long as it has the same number of wins as the teams beneath it.

Maintaining the No. 5 seed is going to be one of the more difficult tasks in the NFL over the next few weeks, as the Vikings travel to New England and Seattle. 

The clash with the Seahawks means more to Kirk Cousins and Co. because Pete Carroll's team is on a two-game winning streak and should knock off San Francisco in Week 13. 

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

If the NFC East teams shift positions and Seattle surges up the standings, the Seahawks hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys that could come into play. 

At 6-5, Carolina is the other key player in the NFC wild-card race despite being on a three-game losing streak. 

If the Panthers sort out their issues, they'd be in a decent position with head-to-head wins over Dallas and Philadelphia. 

However, the one result that could be the ultimate decision-maker in the NFC is Seattle's Week 12 road win over the Panthers. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90