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What Week 11 means for the 2021 NFL playoff picture

Week 11 features some huge matchups on Sunday. We break down the notable matchups that could impact playoff implications.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs prepares to enter the stadium prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The NFL playoff picture is heating up and the now permanent addition of a third wild card in each conference will make for a battle to the finish. We’ve had plenty of at or near .500 division winners, but the 14-team playoff field stands a decent chance of providing a nine- or eight-win playoff team.

Week 11 opened with playoff implications for Thursday Night Football. The Patriots shut out the Falcons to remain hot on the heals of the Bills in the AFC East. The Falcons dropped to 4-6 but still remain only one game back of the last wild card berth.

Sunday brings some significant implications. We get a potential Super Bowl preview when the Chiefs host the Cowboys, but there are more important matchups with arguably more immediate implications. Dallas and Kansas City both need wins, but that matchup is less likely to implicate tiebreakers. On the other hand, the 5-4 Raiders host the 5-4 Bengals with both teams on the outside looking in at the 5-4 Chargers in the wild card race.

In the NFC North, this might be the 4-5 Vikings’ last chance to keep the division race alive. The Packers are 8-2 and could take a 4.5 game lead in the division with a win. In the NFC West, the 8-2 Cardinals face a 3-6 Seahawks squad that has Russell Wilson back, but is struggling to get anything going.

Here’s your full NFL playoff picture, with all the notable matchups on the schedule broken down for the AFC and NFC.

AFC playoff picture

1. Tennessee Titans, 8-2
2. Buffalo Bills, 6-3
3. Baltimore Ravens, 6-3
4. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-4

5. New England Patriots, 7-4
6. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-3-1
7. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-4

Outside looking in: Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), Las Vegas Raiders (5-4), Denver Broncos (5-5), Cleveland Browns (5-5), Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

Week 11 schedule

Colts (5-5) @ Bills (6-3)
Ravens (6-3) @ Bears (3-6)
Lions (0-8) @ Browns (5-5)
Texans (1-8) @ Titans (8-2)
Bengals (5-4) @ Raiders (5-4)
Cowboys (7-2) @ Chiefs (6-4)
Steelers (5-3-1) @ Chargers (5-4)

NFC playoff picture

1. Green Bay Packers, 8-2
2. Arizona Cardinals, 8-2
3. Dallas Cowboys, 7-2
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-3

5. Los Angeles Rams, 7-3
6. New Orleans Saints, 5-4
7. Carolina Panthers, 5-5

Outside looking in: Minnesota Vikings (4-5), San Francisco 49ers (4-5), Philadelphia Eagles (4-6), Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Chicago Bears (3-6), Seattle Seahawks (3-6), Washington Football Team (3-6), New York Giants (3-6)

Week 11 schedule

Ravens (6-3) @ Bears (3-6)
Packers (8-2) @ Vikings (4-5)
Saints (5-4) @ Eagles (4-6)
Washington (3-6) @ Panthers (5-5)
49ers (4-5) @ Jaguars (2-7)
Cowboys (7-2) @ Chiefs (6-4)
Cardinals (8-2) @ Seahawks (3-6)
Giants (3-6) @ Buccaneers (6-3)