As of Thanksgiving, no NFL team has clinched a playoff spot, but that could change following Sunday's games. For now, we're left to speculate about potential postseason scenarios.
After 12 weeks of action, the Baltimore Ravens are the hottest team, winning seven in a row and crushing their last three opponents with a combined score of 135-26. What stands in this team's pathway toward a first-round bye week in the playoffs? The next two games will pose tough challenges.
Slightly below the AFC playoff cut-off line, the Tennessee Titans have gained steam with quarterback Ryan Tannehill under center. They're not generating much mainstream buzz, but we should keep an eye on this club. We may see dramatic changes in the AFC South standings if the Titans finish on a strong note.
Don't count out the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoff race. Despite their 5-6 record, they can still win their division. The team has also received good news, with right tackle Lane Johnson clearing concussion protocol.
We'll take a look at the current postseason standings and some of the developing scenarios as the season winds down the stretch.
Week 13 AFC Standings and Playoff Picture
1. New England Patriots (10-1, 1st-Round Bye)
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-2, 1st-Round Bye)
3. Houston Texans (7-4, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4 vs. Buffalo Bills)
5. Buffalo Bills (8-3 vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5 vs. Houston Texans)
7. Oakland Raiders (6-5)
8. Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
9. Tennessee Titans (6-5)
10. Cleveland Browns (5-6)
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
12. Los Angeles Chargers (4-7)
13. New York Jets (4-7)
14. Denver Broncos (3-8)
15. Miami Dolphins (2-9)
16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-11)
Baltimore Ravens Headed for Bye Week?
After annihilating the Los Angeles Rams 45-6 on the Monday Night Football stage, the Ravens look unbeatable.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for five touchdowns to elevate his push for MVP honors. He's tied with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson for most passing scores (24) and on pace to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards. Offensively, the second-year signal-caller has done everything possible besides play wide receiver to put his team in the position for a first-round bye.
Baltimore has regained the defensive swagger we've seen throughout the franchise's history. The pass defense hasn't allowed 200 yards in three consecutive contests. Cornerback Marcus Peters deserves a lot of credit for his contributions since he joined the team via trade from the Rams. He's intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns for the Ravens.
Equipped with the top-scoring offense and the fifth-ranked defense in points allowed, the Ravens seem destined for at least the No. 2 seed if the New England Patriots don't lose another game.
Because of the Ravens' victory over the Patriots in Week 8, they'd slide into the No. 1 seed in the case of a tie between the two clubs. Baltimore has two tough tests ahead, though, with the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills next up on the schedule.
Tennessee Titans Take Aim at Wild-Card Spot, Division Crown
The Titans benched quarterback Marcus Mariota for Tannehill and became a new team on offense, scoring at least 27 points in three of the last four outings.
After the change under center, Tennessee eclipsed 400 offensive yards in three contests—the unit didn't reach that threshold once while Mariota held the starting role this season.
Tannehill has stepped in and taken full control of the offense. As a competent passer, he forces opponents to respect the threat of the aerial attack. So, running back Derrick Henry may not see an extra defender in the box. Over the last two weeks, Tennessee has been able to ground-and-pound its way to victories, logging 444 rushing yards.
The Titans are the hottest team not currently in a playoff spot, winning four of their last five games, which includes a signature victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tennessee has a tough schedule in the final five weeks, facing teams with winning records. More importantly, it will go on the road to play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday and battle the Houston Texans twice in Weeks 15 and 17.
The Titans have a shot at a wild-card spot if the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders slip and they take care of division business—two wins against the Texans could put them in position to host a playoff game.
Week 13 NFC Standings and Playoff Picture
1.San Francisco 49ers (10-1, 1st-Round Bye)
2. New Orleans Saints (9-2, 1st-Round Bye)
3. Green Bay Packers (8-3, vs. Minnesota Vikings)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-5, vs. Seattle Seahawks)
5. Seattle Seahawks (9-2, vs. Dallas Cowboys)
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-3, vs. Green Bay Packers)
7. Los Angeles Rams (6-5)
8. Chicago Bears (5-6)
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
10. Carolina Panthers (5-6)
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
12. Detroit Lions (3-7-1)
13. Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1)
14. Atlanta Falcons (3-8)
15. New York Giants (2-9)
16. Washington Redskins (2-9)
Seattle Seahawks Still in Play for 1st-Round Bye
Despite their 9-2 record, the Seahawks hold the fifth playoff spot as the second-place team in the NFC West. Obviously, the top four positions are reserved for division leaders.
Yet, at the conclusion of Week 13, the Seahawks could take over one of the top two seeds with a win over the Minnesota Vikings and a 49ers loss. Seattle owns the tiebreaker over San Francisco because of a hard-fought head-to-head Week 10 victory.
The Seahawks could also go into Week 14 with the No. 1 seed if the 49ers lose to the Ravens and Atlanta Falcons complete a season sweep against the New Orleans Saints, who hold the tiebreaker over Seattle because of a head-to-head victory.
Other than Jackson in Baltimore, Wilson has a legitimate claim for MVP honors. He doesn't play alongside a top-five defense. In fact, the Seahawks' unit ranks 21st in scoring with a bottom-tier secondary. Chris Carson, the team's lead ball-carrier, has ball-security issues, fumbling seven times and losing four to the opposition.
Yet, with all the holes across the roster, Wilson seems to find a way to lead his team to victories, throwing for 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
On paper, the Seahawks seem like overachievers, but they've won four consecutive games with one over the conference-leading 49ers. Seattle will host San Francisco in Week 17 for a game that may affect seeding atop the NFC.
Don't Count Out the Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are coming off a 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. They've scored a combined 19 points over the last two weeks. Wideouts Nelson Agholor (knee) and Alshon Jeffery (ankle) are nursing injuries. So, what's to like about this NFC East club?
Despite the Eagles' issues, they're one game behind the Cowboys for top spot in the division.
The Cowboys routed the Eagles in the first meeting 37-10, but inclement weather in Philadelphia could shrink the gap between the two clubs for the next meeting. Also, Dallas has been nearly as inconsistent on a week-to-week basis as of late, going 3-5 after a 3-0 start to the season.
Before we preview an NFC East division showdown, the Eagles must beat three 2-9 teams—the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Washington Redskins—to host the Cowboys at 8-6, which is a feasible task.
Philadelphia's schedule likely sets up a winner-take-all situation with Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22. Get your popcorn ready.