NFL Playoff Picture Week 13: Latest AFC, NFC Standings and Bracket Scenarios

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 3, 2020

NFL Playoff Picture Week 13: Latest AFC, NFC Standings and Bracket Scenarios

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The 2020 NFL playoff picture is nearing the wet-cement stage.

    There's still time for it to change, but it's quickly taking shape and will move past the point of no return sooner than later.

    The gap between footballs haves and have-nots is widening, bookended by the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and winless New York Jets. There's some gray area in between, though, which is where postseason spots will be claimed and denied over the coming weeks.

    With Week 13 on the horizon, it's the perfect time to scan the updated conference standings, examine the playoff bracket and identify the top matchups currently projected.

AFC Standings

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-0

    Kansas City Chiefs: 10-1

    Tennessee Titans: 8-3

    Buffalo Bills: 8-3

    Cleveland Browns: 8-3

    Miami Dolphins: 7-4

    Indianapolis Colts: 7-4

    Las Vegas Raiders: 6-5

    Baltimore Ravens: 6-5

    New England Patriots: 5-6

    Denver Broncos: 4-7

    Houston Texans: 4-7

    Los Angeles Chargers: 3-8

    Cincinnati Bengals: 2-8-1

    Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-10

    New York Jets: 0-11

NFC Standings

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    New Orleans Saints: 9-2

    Seattle Seahawks: 8-3

    Green Bay Packers: 8-3

    New York Giants: 4-7

    Los Angeles Rams: 7-4

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-5

    Arizona Cardinals: 6-5

    Minnesota Vikings: 5-6

    Chicago Bears: 5-6

    San Francisco 49ers: 5-6

    Detroit Lions: 4-7

    Washington: 4-7

    Atlanta Falcons: 4-7

    Carolina Panthers: 4-8

    Philadelphia Eagles: 3-7-1

    Dallas Cowboys: 3-8

Current Playoff Bracket

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    AFC

    Bye: No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers

    No. 4 Buffalo Bills vs. No. 5 Cleveland Browns

    No. 3 Tennessee Titans vs. No. 6 Miami Dolphins

    No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. No. 7 Indianapolis Colts

                    

    NFC

    Bye: No. 1 New Orleans Saints

    No. 4 New York Giants vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Rams

    No. 3 Green Bay Packers vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    No. 2 Seattle Seahawks vs. No. 7 Arizona Cardinals

Top Projected Matchups

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    AFC: No. 3 Tennessee Titans vs. No. 6 Miami Dolphins

    A playoff revenge game for Ryan Tannehill? A chance for Dolphins skipper Brian Flores to go head-to-head with NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry?

    Where do we sign up?

    While the Titans are the higher seed, the Dolphins are the better squad by scoring differential (plus-79, fourth overall). They have the less established offense—starting with rookie signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa—and certainly don't boast a weapon like Henry. But they do have the more disruptive defense with advantages in takeaways (19 to 16) and sacks (25 to 14).

    This may not be the kind of collision that jumps off the page for casual fans, since it's relatively light on household names. But that actually adds to the appeal, too. Both clubs are trending up, and this is a chance for each side to put itself firmly on the radar.

                     

    NFC: No. 3 Green Bay Packers vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    There are different ways to assemble NFL contenders, but this remains a quarterback-driven league. It's only fitting, then, that we highlight a clash between two of the best to ever line up at the position.

    Green Bay is once again witnessing weekly magic acts by Aaron Rodgers. He's toying with defenses to the tune of 33 touchdown passes against just four interceptions, and he's almost always in lockstep with leading receiver Davante Adams (74 receptions for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns).

    Not to be outdone, Tom Brady has been a transformational force in Tampa Bay. The future Hall of Famer's first season with the Bucs has them on course to make their first playoff appearance since 2007. Few (if any) clubs have as many options in the passing game, too, as Brady can spread it around among Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski.

    If these standings hold, the Packers-Bucs tussle is the one most fans will build their viewing schedule around.

                    

    NFC: No. 2 Seattle Seahawks vs. No. 7 Arizona Cardinals

    When division rivalries stretch into the postseason, that's when can't-miss classics can happen. That's especially true in this case, since the Seahawks and Cardinals feature two of the league's most dynamic quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray, respectively.

    Wilson is cooking as per usual with 3,216 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He even paces the Seahawks in rushing yards with 379, and his fingerprints are all over the fact that sophomore receiver DK Metcalf leads everyone with 1,039 receiving yards.

    Murray, meanwhile, is rocketing up the ladder of dual-threat quarterbacks in his second NFL go-round. Nearly all of his passing categories are climbing—save for his sacks taken, which has mercifully plummeted from 48 to 18—and he's already crushing his rushing marks with 650 yards and 10 touchdowns. Having a legitimate No. 1 option in DeAndre Hopkins (77 catches for 967 yards and four scores) has only made Murray harder to contain.

    These clubs have already split their regular-season series at one win apiece. Arizona's victory went to overtime, while Seattle's was a one-score decision that was a two-point game in the fourth quarter.

    If they lock horns again in the playoffs, you won't want to miss it.