Week 11 is here, ushering in final seven weeks of the 2020 NFL regular season. Every win becomes a lot more important in trying to lock down division titles or wild-card berths to get into the playoffs, while every loss can further dash those hopes.
The postseason field expanding by one team each in the AFC and the NFC to a total of 14 has brought more teams into realistic contention over the near two-month closing stretch Based on the current standings, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:
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NFL standings for Week 11
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0), first place, AFC North. The Steelers have a full-game lead over the Chiefs for the top seed and the lone bye. They have a very favorable schedule ahead, starting with the Jaguars in Week 11. There’s no margin for error, however, as the tiebreaker can still go in the Chiefs’ favor. The Steelers and Chiefs do not play each other.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs got a well-deserved bye before a tough closing schedule. They start by playing the Raiders, to whom they lost, on the road. The Chiefs also will travel to the Buccaneers, Saints and Dolphins. It will probably come down to the wire for the No. 1 seed between them and the Steelers.
3. Buffalo Bills (7-3), first place, AFC East. The Bills’ last-second loss to the Cardinals was costly. Their division lead over the Dolphins is down to only a half-game for their Week 11 bye, with the Patriots 2.5 games behind. The Bills did beat the Dolphins and Patriots earlier, which helps, but they did lose to the Chiefs, which will hurt their seeding as still likely division champions. They get a shot at the Steelers at home in Week 14.
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-3), first place, AFC South. The Colts took over this spot from the Titans by beating them in Week 10 and gaining a head-to-head tiebreaker. They needed to jump here coming off a loss to the Ravens, having already lost to the Browns and having the Raiders still left on the slate. Now they can concentrate on winning the division with four more South games still left. Those can offset brutal matchups with the Packers in Week 11 and Steelers in Week 16.
5. Las Vegas Raiders (6-3), second place, AFC West. The Raiders jumped up here after ripping the Broncos. They have a better conference record (4-2) than the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins and Titans coming out of Week 10. They beat the Browns and also get shots at home against the Colts (Week 14) and Dolphins (Week 16) in December. Beating the Chiefs at home in Week 11 for a season sweep would suddenly give them a chance in the division.
6. MIami Dolphins (6-3), second place, AFC East. The Dolphins have this second wild-card spot after another big AFC win against the Chargers, as their conference record (3-2) edges out the Ravens (4-3), Browns (4-3) and Titans (4-3). The Dolphins play the Raiders later but do not play the Browns or Titans.
7. Baltimore Ravens (6-3), second place, AFC North. The Ravens are now three full games behind the Steelers plus the initial head-to-head tiebreaker. But they have key wins over the Browns and Colts in trying to secure at least the last wild card. They host the Titans in Week 11 and still have rematches with the Steelers and Browns, but they do not play the Raiders or Dolphins.
Who can get there?
8. Cleveland Browns (6-3)
9. Tennessee Titans (6-3)
These two teams fell out of position in Week 10 when the Colts, Raiders and Dolphins all won. The Browns lost to the Raiders but beat the Colts and they draw the Titans in Week 13. The Titans have gone 1-3 after a strong 5-0 start to fall behind the Ravens and the rest, right before going to Baltimore to play them and then having a rematch at the Colts to follow up their Week 10 loss.
Who’s likely out?
10. New England Patriots (4-5)
11. Denver Broncos (3-6)
12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (2-7)
14. Houston Texans (2-7)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8)
16. New York Jets (0-9)
The grouping of six solid 6-3 teams two games ahead doesn’t bode well for the Patriots with a very difficult slates still ahead after beating the Ravens. The Broncos are fading fast and the Dolphins can sink them further in Week 11. The Bengals have three games against the bottom of the NFC East, but another Steelers date and one with the Dolphins counters that. The Chargers can keep thinking about what might have been with all their close losses, while the Texans have dug themselves too deep of a hole. The Jets can focus on edging the Jaguars for the No. 1 pick in the draft.
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NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Green Bay Packers (7-2), first place, NFC North. The Packers now hold a two-game lead over the bye-week Bears, who are fading fast and whom the Packers get to play twice, including in Week 12 at Lambeau Field. They should root for the Seahawks and Buccaneers to fade so they can work to keep home-field advantage over the Saints, whom they beat in New Orleans in Week 3.
2. New Orleans Saints (7-2), first place, NFC South. The Saints’ sparkling conference record (now 6-1) gave them a tiebreaker over the Seahawks and Packers going into Week 10. But coming out of Week 10, the Seahawks’ failure to create a three-way tie atop the NFC means the Saints lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to Green Bay. The Saints will look try to keep winning without Drew Brees for a while, given that the Buccaneers, whom they swept in the division, are still on their heels.
3. Arizona Cardinals (6-3), first place, NFC West. The Cardinals are in first place after Week 10 after beating the Bills on Kyler Murray’s successful Hail Mary — the biggest play of the season by any team so far — because the Rams also beat the Seahawks. The Cardinals are 3-0 in division play, the best mark in the West.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5-1), first place, NFC East. The Eagles should pull away and win the division in the second half after their Week 9 bye, but they got off to a rough start by losing to the Giants in Week 10, tightening the race. They will not finish higher or lower than this seed and hope to still be a dangerous playoff floater.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers blew a big opportunity to become the division and conference front-runners against the Saints. Now they need to finish a full game ahead of the Saints, to whom they lost twice, to take the South. They are in strong shape, however, to fall back on one of the three wild cards. Beating the Rams at home in Week 11 would help. Their other tough game is at home against the Chiefs in Week 12, before a weak slate after the Week 13 bye.
6. Los Angeles Rams (6-3), second place, NFC West. The Rams jumped the Seahawks in the standings with their head-to-head victory and also kept pace with the Cardinals. They are just 1-1 in the division, having lost to the 49ers, but 6-1 in the conference overall, padding their one-game lead over the Bears, whom they also beat. They know how big a win over the Bucs would be, and how hurtful a loss would be, too.
7. Seattle Seahawks (6-3), third place, NFC West. The Seahawks saw their division record fall to 1-2, now having lost to both the Rams and Cardinals. They haven’t lost in the conference outside of West play, with three wins over sub-.500 teams — the Falcons, Vikings and Cowboys. They need to beat the Cardinals at home on Thursday night in Week 11 to get back on track or risk being stuck with this last wild card for good.
Who can get there?
8. Chicago Bears (5-5)
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
10. Detroit Lions (4-5)
The Bears, after starting 5-1, have free-fallen to .500 for their Week 11 bye. The Vikings made a big move back toward contention by beating the Bears in Week 10, although that Seahawks loss will continue to haunt them. The Vikings beat the Lions in Week 9. The Lions are listed here after their win over Washington, but their playoff hopes are even slimmer than they might look because of the mathematics.
Who’s likely out?
11. San Francisco 49ers (4-6)
12. Atlanta Falcons (3-6)
13. Carolina Panthers (3-7)
14. New York Giants (3-7)
15. Washington Football Team (2-7)
16. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
The injury-riddled 49ers’ latest bad loss, to the Saints, is part of a very difficult slate ahead. The Falcons and Panthers have zero margin for error as extremely flawed teams. That awful NFC East trio still should focus more on the draft behind the Eagles, despite the Giants winning two in a row in the division.
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