NFL playoff picture 2021 – Standings, bracket after Thanksgiving games, plus Week 12 outlook

by Msnbctv news staff

Welcome to a particular Thanksgiving Day version of our NFL playoff image. When you saved just one eye on the video games, and even for those who watched them intently, we’ve got quite a bit to debate. The outcomes of two matchups shook up the playoff standings in each conferences. Among the many takeaways:

  • The Buffalo Payments regained supremacy within the AFC East, a minimum of briefly. The Payments, after all, might be again among the many wild-card contenders if the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

  • The Payments’ win over the New Orleans Saints elevated the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re presently No. 7 within the NFC standings, whereas the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss has them wanting up on the NFC subject.

  • The Las Vegas Raiders’ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them again in competition to maneuver into the AFC wild-card race ought to a present contender falter.

  • The Cowboys’ lead within the NFC East is not but threatened, however the surging Philadelphia Eagles can now not be discounted within the division race.

We have up to date these conditions and extra under. Search for one other replace after Sunday’s video games as Week 12 continues.

Soar to: AFC | NFC


No staff has exemplified this unpredictable season higher than the Titans, who gained seven of their first 9 video games regardless of dealing with the NFL’s most tough schedule over that stretch. They then launched into a a lot simpler schedule, solely to endure a shocking house loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to proceed closing the hole within the AFC South, shrinking the Titans’ result in two video games with six to play. (Tennessee gained each head-to-head matchups with Indianapolis.) No matter whether or not the Colts can catch them, it is tough to view the Titans because the clear-cut AFC favourite when two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets — who’ve a mixed document of 4-16. And now the Patriots, arguably the most well liked staff within the league, await them on Sunday.

Subsequent up: at Patriots

Even with out quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens managed to take care of their maintain on first place within the AFC North. They have not been fairly for some time, having misplaced to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an time beyond regulation win over the Vikings over the previous month. However perhaps that is simply how it should be for them.

Subsequent up: vs. Browns

Will a convincing win Thursday within the Superdome be sufficient to drag the Payments out of a midseason spiral? They entered Week 12 having misplaced two of their previous three video games, together with an inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-point loss to the Colts. 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 recreation on the Buccaneers blended in there, as effectively. However for a couple of days, a minimum of, they’ve returned to the highest of the AFC East.

Subsequent up: vs Patriots (Week 13)



Josh Allen finds Dawson Knox for his second landing of the sport versus New Orleans.

The Chiefs are rolling off their fourth consecutive victory, a streak that has introduced them from under .500 to atop the AFC West. There does not appear to be a lot doubt that the Chiefs shall be among the many seven groups representing the AFC within the playoffs, and extra probably than not, they would be the AFC West champion.

Subsequent up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)

It took the Patriots lower than two months to get well from their 1-3 begin and even briefly supplant the Payments atop the AFC East. The Payments reclaimed first place with a Thanksgiving win over the Saints, however the Patriots will retake the place in the event that they beat the Titans in Week 12. 5 consecutive wins — and 6 of their previous seven video games — haven’t solely given them a division benefit but additionally put them inside affordable vary of the highest seed within the AFC. It is all in entrance of them now. The Patriots have a fortuitous house recreation towards the AFC-leading Titans this week then play the Payments twice in a three-game stretch subsequent month. When you’re judging postseason seedings by how groups are taking part in in the intervening time, it is tough to look previous the Patriots because the best-situated staff within the AFC (proper now, after all).

Subsequent up: vs. Titans

There was a time when a lot of folks have been anxious about Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s well being in getting back from final season’s knee harm. By way of 10 video games, we are able to say that the priority was principally unfounded. Simply making it by 10 video games did not appear a certainty when the season started, however he has the Bengals’ offense buzzing, most lately with a 32-point outburst in Week 11’s victory over the Raiders. ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index (FPI) is giving the Bengals roughly a 50-50 probability of creating the playoffs, however in a wide-open AFC, they’ve completely put themselves in place to be within the December dialog.

Subsequent up: vs. Steelers

The Chargers did every little thing they might to fall out of the AFC’s prime seven in Week 11, however within the greatest signal but that they’re turning a nook beneath coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers stopped doing Chargers issues lengthy sufficient to retake the lead. There’s nonetheless quite a bit to query in regards to the Chargers, most notably their particular groups, however they confirmed they’re to be taken severely within the AFC playoff race.

Subsequent up: at Broncos

Within the AFC hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)

The Steelers are winless of their previous two video games and are actually out of the AFC’s prime seven. It will not get any simpler once they journey to Cincinnati this weekend.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

The Colts have gained three consecutive video games and 5 of their previous six, however previous to Week 11, the standard of the groups they beat wasn’t too spectacular. That modified with a blowout victory at Buffalo. The Colts are trending in all the suitable instructions, and the Buccaneers are their subsequent check.

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

We are able to do nothing however tip our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide appeared effectively underway throughout a three-game shedding streak coming into Thursday’s recreation on the Cowboys. They went into AT&T Stadium and gained a struggle of attrition, and now have 10 days to organize for a winnable house recreation towards Washington in Week 13.



Anthony Brown is whistled for a go interference penalty, which units the Raiders up for Daniel Carlson’s profitable subject objective in time beyond regulation.

Cleveland Browns (6-5)

It is unbelievable that the Browns have gained six video games given the plain impression quarterback Baker Mayfield’s left shoulder harm is having on his efficiency. Oh, and remember the messy presence and departure of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. When you’re choosing one staff to fall out of the wild-card race as a consequence of exhaustion, it is the Browns. They’ve a highway journey to Baltimore on deck.

Denver Broncos (5-5)

The Broncos will return from a bye with a .500 document, however consecutive video games towards the Chargers and Chiefs will probably knock them farther from the AFC wild-card race.


Let’s tip our cap to the Cardinals, who’ve traveled fairly a journey since their last-minute loss in Week 8 to the Packers. Enjoying with out quarterback Kyler Murray and large receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they’ve gone 2-1 with wins at division rivals San Francisco and Seattle. The Cardinals have grow to be the fourth staff in NFL historical past to start out a season 6-0 in highway video games and can get their MVP-caliber quarterback again ahead of later. FPI is looking them a digital lock to make the playoffs and giving them a greater than 90% probability to win the NFC West.

Subsequent up: at Bears (Week 13)

In most situations, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers are a authentic Tremendous Bowl contender. However what ought to we are saying a few Packers staff that’s shedding key gamers to harm on a weekly foundation? They’re nonetheless in actually fine condition within the NFC North, main the Vikings by 2½ video games, with a Week 17 matchup towards Minnesota at Lambeau Subject looming. However on the very least, the Packers’ depth goes to be examined throughout December soccer.

Subsequent up: vs. Rams

The defending Tremendous Bowl champions broke a mildly alarming two-game shedding streak on Monday night time with a convincing win over the Giants, a staff that entered the sport ranked No. 23 within the NFL with a mean of 18.9 offensive factors per recreation. The lane is there for a excessive seed within the NFC bracket, as their remaining schedule consists of solely two groups with profitable data (the Colts and Payments).

Subsequent up: vs. Colts

Uh-oh. The Cowboys have been anticipated to take off as soon as they acquired quarterback Dak Prescott again from harm. As a substitute, they’ve misplaced three of their previous 4 video games. Their lead within the NFC East isn’t but threatened; the Eagles would nonetheless be two video games behind within the loss column even when they beat the Giants on Sunday. However it stays an open query whether or not the Cowboys will head into the playoffs as a real contender or shall be within the postseason just because they’re the least-flawed staff in a weak division.

Subsequent up: at Saints (Week 13)



A referee takes a fall as Tony Pollard takes the kick return 100 yards to the home.

It has been a fast tumble for the “all-in” Rams, who’ve fallen from the highest spot within the NFC to the wild-card image with two consecutive losses. Regardless, the Rams’ Week 11 bye got here at an excellent time. That they had two weeks to get newcomers Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. extra acclimated to their program, along with determining why quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 4 interceptions in the course of the two-game skid. They higher hope they get it found out, as a result of their upcoming schedule consists of not solely the Packers however the Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens and 49ers. That shall be a tricky run.

Subsequent up: at Packers

If you appear to play shut video games each week, the maths says you need to a minimum of win a few of them. The Vikings’ Week 11 victory over the Packers boosted their division and convention data. Each are key classes for tiebreakers, and their 4-2 NFC document is the explanation they’re forward of the Saints and 49ers (whom they play subsequent week) within the NFC playoff standings. Total, the Vikings have performed in seven consecutive video games which were determined by seven or fewer factors, a stretch that both has hardened them for a playoff run or will in the end value them entrance into the postseason altogether.

Subsequent up: at 49ers

The 49ers have gained three of their previous 4, they usually have been in a position to leapfrog the Saints within the wild-card race following Thursday’s motion. Nobody can say with certainty whether or not the 49ers are really a playoff staff, however typically these issues get determined within the postseason. Their remaining energy of schedule ranks No. 25 within the league. One caveat to bear in mind is that the Eagles, one other NFC wild-card competitor, have the NFL’s best remaining schedule.

Subsequent up: vs. Vikings

Within the NFC hunt

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

The Eagles even have gained three of their previous 4, all of which by greater than 10 factors. And if you see two video games apiece towards Washington and the Giants remaining, in addition to a matchup towards the Jets, you see a reasonably favorable schedule for staying within the wild-card race. Philly has a highway recreation towards the Giants this week.

Carolina Panthers (5-6)

Can the Panthers actually be a playoff contender with a quarterback they signed out of free company and inserted into the beginning lineup inside two weeks? Cam Newton is perhaps Superman, however he is not a magician. Carolina will journey to play the Dolphins on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints (5-6)

That is now 4 consecutive losses for the Saints since beginning quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee harm. Their offense had zero punch Thursday night time towards the Payments, they usually’re now wanting up on the NFC playoff subject. They will play the Cowboys in Week 13, however the one shiny spot is that 4 of their remaining six opponents have shedding data.

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