NFL playoff picture 2021 – Standings, bracket, scenarios after Cowboys-Saints, plus Week 13 outlook

Your Thursday night time NFL playoff image replace for Week 13, following the Cowboys-Saints sport, goes a bit of like this:

  • The Cowboys are nearly definitely going to win the NFC East, whether or not you assume they’re good or unhealthy, in disarray or coming collectively, balanced or with obvious holes. They took care of enterprise Thursday night time in opposition to a depleted Saints workforce, successful 27-10 and snapping a two-game dropping streak.

  • The Saints missed a significant alternative to get again into the playoff image and now face steep odds of returning to the postseason.

This weekend’s video games will not actually change the present trajectory of both workforce. When Week 13 is accomplished, the Cowboys will nonetheless be in a commanding spot of their division, and the Saints will probably be wanting up at too many groups within the NFC wild-card race. What follows is a take a look at the place the NFL stands with six weeks remaining till the playoffs start. As all the time, we lay out the chances and likelihoods. Our subsequent replace will put up after Sunday night time’s sport between the Broncos and Chiefs, after which once more after an essential Patriots-Payments sport on Monday night time.

Bounce to: AFC | NFC


The quarterback of the AFC’s high seed threw 4 interceptions Sunday night time — and his workforce nonetheless gained. You may view that as an indication of energy for Lamar Jackson’s Ravens. Their presence on the high of the rankings displays a convention that’s actually up for grabs amongst a half-dozen groups. Can the Ravens actually maintain off the Patriots, Titans, Chiefs and Payments? We do not usually say this, given the competitiveness of the rivalry, however the Ravens have a powerful probability of advancing their quest once they play the reeling Steelers on Sunday.

Subsequent up: at Steelers

The Patriots maintain giving us causes to assume they’re among the best groups within the NFL. They’ve gained six in a row and by a minimum of 18 factors in 5 of these. And total, they lead the NFL with a degree differential of plus-144. It is moreover wild that this has all include rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who’s taking part in effectively however is not among the many league’s high 10 in Complete QBR. Amazingly, a minimum of to some, the Patriots can start the method of locking down the AFC East in Week 13 once they journey to Buffalo. FPI would not like their possibilities of successful the division, a lot much less incomes home-field benefit, however they’re all respectable prospects for the Patriots.

Subsequent up: at Payments

The excellent news for the Titans is {that a} two-game dropping streak hasn’t actually broken their standing within the AFC South, the place they’ve a two-game lead with 5 video games left to play. They’re going to have a bye in Week 13 after which return to play the Jaguars and Steelers, two groups who’re going within the mistaken course. The query with the Titans isn’t whether or not they’ll make the playoffs, however slightly — given their well being and the outcomes of their previous two video games — whether or not they are often thought of more likely to make a deep run. In the mean time, the reply may be very a lot unsure.

Subsequent up: vs. Jaguars (Week 14)

The Chiefs will return from their bye week with their playoff positioning unchanged. However they now have a full sport lead within the AFC West, the place the opposite three groups are all 6-5. With that mentioned, the division stays very a lot in play. 4 of the Chiefs’ last six video games will probably be in opposition to AFC West foes, together with two in opposition to the Broncos and one every in opposition to the Raiders and Chargers.

Subsequent up: vs. Broncos

The Bengals appear to be a special workforce than the one which misplaced consecutive video games heading into its Week 10 bye. Since then, they’ve defeated the Raiders and Steelers by a mixed 57 factors. They’ve gotten themselves to the purpose the place FPI likes their possibilities of a minimum of making the playoffs, and so they have a roughly one-in-four probability of successful the AFC North.

Subsequent up: vs. Chargers

The Payments higher hope they’ve figured issues out, as a result of they’re about to go right into a brutal stretch of their schedule. They are going to play the red-hot Patriots twice in 4 weeks, with a sport on the Buccaneers combined in there, as effectively.

Subsequent up: vs. Patriots



Dianna Russini and Bart Scott preview the AFC East showdown between the Patriots and Payments on Monday Night time Soccer.

The Week 12 loss to the Broncos was the Chargers’ fourth defeat of their previous six video games. They’ve clearly turned within the mistaken course after a 4-1 begin, however for now, they’re nonetheless among the many AFC’s high seven due to their head-to-head victory over the Raiders in Week 4. As to whether or not they can keep right here is one other story. All advised, the Chargers have not been taking part in constant playoff-level soccer since mid-October. They’re teetering on the sting.

Subsequent up: at Bengals

Within the AFC hunt

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

We will do nothing however tip our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide appeared effectively underway throughout a three-game dropping streak getting into Thanksgiving’s sport on the Cowboys. However they went into AT&T Stadium and gained a battle of attrition and now have a winnable residence sport in opposition to Washington.

Denver Broncos (6-5)

The Broncos got here out of their bye with a dominant efficiency in opposition to the Chargers, their third win of their previous 4 video games. It drew them even with the remainder of AFC West and set them as much as a minimum of have an opportunity down the stretch. 4 of the Broncos’ remaining six video games are in opposition to divisional rivals, beginning Sunday on the Chiefs.

Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

The Colts’ three-game successful streak ended with an odd residence loss that featured 27 consecutive move performs from their offense, presumably partly to beat a Buccaneers protection that was geared to cease tailback Jonathan Taylor. We discovered, to no shock, that quarterback Carson Wentz cannot carry this workforce. They’re going to have an opportunity to get again on observe, nonetheless, in opposition to the Texans.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)

Yeesh. The Steelers do not appear to be something near a playoff workforce. The trail will not get any simpler Sunday in opposition to the Ravens.

Cleveland Browns (6-6)

The Browns head into their bye with losses in two of their previous three video games, and they’re going to face the Ravens once they return in Week 14.


The Cardinals presumably return quarterback Kyler Murray and receiver DeAndre Hopkins again within the lineup. They’re going to should be at full energy. Their energy of their remaining schedule ranks No. 18 within the NFL, based mostly on FPI, however the eyeball take a look at suggests it is tougher than that. Three of the 5 video games are on the highway, and two are in opposition to groups that at present have successful data (Rams and Cowboys). Plus, their Week 16 opponent (Colts) will probably be a troublesome out, as effectively. Happily for the Cardinals, they’ve the league’s finest report on the highway (6-0) by means of Week 12.

Subsequent up: at Bears

The Packers are proper on the heels of the Cardinals, with whom they personal the head-to-head tiebreaker. And of their 5 remaining video games, three will probably be at Lambeau Discipline, the place the Packers are 5-0 this season. One of many two highway video games will probably be at Ford Discipline, the place they’re going to play the winless Lions. The Packers are very a lot within the working to be the NFC’s high workforce, each on the sphere and within the playoff standings.

Subsequent up: vs. Bears (Week 14)



Domonique Foxworth and Tim Hasselbeck argue that they belief Aaron Rodgers to guide the Packers to the Tremendous Bowl greater than Tom Brady with the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers have now gained consecutive video games, scoring 68 factors within the course of, since a two-game dropping streak had everybody across the NFL panicking. It is laborious to argue that the Buccaneers aren’t again on observe. Their remaining energy of schedule ranks No. 22, and for the time being, it consists of just one opponent with a successful report (Payments, Week 14).

Subsequent up: at Falcons

It wasn’t fairly, however the Cowboys snapped a two-game dropping streak on Thursday night time in New Orleans and took one other step towards locking down the NFC East title. Even when the Eagles, the Giants and Washington all win this weekend, FPI would nonetheless put the Cowboys’ probabilities to win the division at 92.4%. There will probably be a variety of takes about the best way the Cowboys performed, together with a botched two-minute drill on the finish of the primary half to a failure to shut the sport out when taking up possession halfway by means of the fourth quarter. However we must always most likely chorus from judging something however the last outcome, given the absence of 5 coaches — together with head coach Mike McCarthy — and two gamers due to COVID-19 protocols.

Subsequent up: at Washington

At this level, it is truthful to ask if the Rams are going to make the playoffs in any respect. They’ve now misplaced three video games in a row, with quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing a pick-six in every of them, and seem in vital disarray. The Rams will get one of the best probability they may to regroup on Sunday, with a house sport in opposition to Jacksonville, however total, their remaining schedule is the fourth-most tough within the league.

Subsequent up: vs. Jaguars

The 49ers are figuring issues out at simply the fitting time. They’ve gained three consecutive video games and 4 of their previous 5, and Week 12’s victory over the Vikings will provide them with an essential head-to-head tiebreaker ought to or not it’s wanted on the finish of the common season. The energy of their remaining schedule ranks No. 24, and an argument could possibly be made that they are taking part in higher proper now than all however one in every of their last six opponents (Bengals in Week 14). At this fee, they’re going to overtake the Rams within the NFC West and the playoff standings in a matter of weeks.

Subsequent up: at Seahawks

Yep, you learn that accurately. Washington’s victory Monday night time over the Seahawks allowed it to supplant the Vikings for the ultimate wild-card spot, due to one of the best convention report (5-2) of the NFC’s three 5-6 groups. The win was Washington’s third in a row, and its remaining schedule is fairly attention-grabbing. After taking part in the Raiders on Sunday, it’ll end the season on a five-game run in opposition to NFC East opponents: two video games in opposition to the Cowboys, two versus the Eagles and one with the Giants.

Subsequent up: at Raiders

Within the NFC hunt

Minnesota Vikings (5-6)

The Vikings are lucky to be going through the Lions on Sunday, a sport they’re taking part in with out tailback Dalvin Cook dinner.

Atlanta Falcons (5-6)

The Falcons began 1-3 after which went on one other 1-3 bender earlier than holding on for a seven-point victory in Week 12 over the Jaguars. As unbelievable because it might sound, the Falcons are barely out of the sloppy NFC wild-card state of affairs, due to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Saints. Stranger issues have occurred, however they’ve a reasonably vital impediment on Sunday once they host the Buccaneers.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

There is not any solution to sugarcoat it. The Eagles flunked a reasonably primary take a look at of playoff worthiness in Week 12, scoring simply seven factors in a loss to the equally anemic Giants. It is truthful to ask if they’re going to squander one of many NFL’s best remaining schedules, which continues on Sunday on the Jets.

Carolina Panthers (5-7)

The Panthers have now misplaced seven of 9 video games since a 3-0 begin. Their fade from the playoff image is sort of full, however they’re going to have a bye week adopted by a winnable sport in Week 14 in opposition to the Falcons to delay the inevitable for a bit of longer.

New Orleans Saints (5-7)

Thursday night time was a high-leverage sport for the Saints, who would have moved into the No. 7 spot and raised their probabilities for a playoff spot to 54.2%, in line with FPI. As an alternative, they misplaced a winnable sport, and FPI now places their playoff probabilities at 20% heading right into a Week 14 sport on the Jets.

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