As the NFL enters Week 13, almost nothing has been settled in the playoff picture with six more weeks in the season. In the AFC, the Ravens lead the way at 8-3, with the Patriots and Titans close behind at 8-4, and Chiefs finishing off the division leaders at 7-4. The wild card slots are currently held by the Bengals (7-4), Bills (7-4) and Chargers (6-5). Not a single spot of the seven is secure, and I wouldn’t even consider the Ravens a playoff lock yet as they have looked sloppy in recent weeks and have an extremely tough schedule to end the season with games against the Packers and Rams along with the Steelers twice, Bengals and Browns. Fighting to get into the playoffs in the AFC are the Broncos and Raiders (both 6-5), Colts and Browns (both 6-6), Steelers (5-5-1), and even the Dolphins sitting at (5-7), as they are only 1.5 games behind the Chargers and have an easy schedule to finish off the season. In the end, I think the Patriots will finish as the AFC’s top seed with the Titans or Chiefs in 2nd and 3rd respectively and the Ravens rounding out the division winners. For the wild cards, I have the Bengals, Colts, and Bills as the favorites, in that order, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers or Browns took any of those teams’ spots.
In the NFC, things are a little more clear as there are five clear teams at the top, and it would be extremely surprising to see any of them miss the playoffs. The Cardinals lead the way at 9-2 with the Packers just behind at 9-3. The Buccaneers are 8-3 and the Cowboys and Rams finish off the group with both at 7-4. The 49ers are in control of the six seed after winning four straight games at 6-5. After this it gets messy, as there are six teams in the NFC with five wins including the Football Team, Vikings, Saints and Falcons at 5-6, while the Eagles and Panthers are both 5-7. A bit behind but with a real shot at making the playoffs are the 4-7 Bears and Giants, and even the 3-8 Seahawks. The 0-10-1 Lions are still not mathematically eliminated, but I can guarantee that they will not qualify for the playoffs. I would expect NFC to finish much like it is now with the top five as the top five, but with the Packers as the one seed. I also think the 49ers will stand their ground as the 6th seed. I have no idea who is going to finish as the 7th seed, but I would guess the Vikings or Eagles if I was forced to make a decision.
Regardless of what happens, this season is setting up to be one of the most exciting playoffs in recent memory, as there is no one or two seemingly “dominant” teams, so I expect many surprises throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.