The NFL is playing its final weekend of the November calendar and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend brings plenty of playoff implications. Nobody can clinch a playoff berth this weekend, but several teams can head into December on the verge of securing a spot in the 2023 NFL Playoffs.
The weekend opened with a busy Thanksgiving slate. We’ll have some notable Sunday games, but this was one of the best trio of Thanksgiving matchups in some time. All six teams entered the holiday in the mix for a playoff berth, with five of them in the playoffs based on current standings and the Lions not too far back.
All three favorites won on Thursday. The Bills held off the Lions late to temporarily claim first place in the AFC East. The Cowboys put together a strong second half effort to beat the Giants and claim full control of second place in the NFC East. The day wrapped with the Vikings winning a back-and-forth affair with the Patriots to further secure first place in the NFC North and stay hot on the heels of the Eagles for the No. 1 seed.
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The Commanders got a huge win over the Falcons and suddenly find themselves only a half game back of the Giants with a Week 13 matchup at MetLife Stadium in the offing. Washington awaits the Seahawks-Raiders game to see if they’ll go into next week’s game in the final wild card spot.
The Jets impressed with Mike White in the saddle, crushing the Jets. New York will not move up in the playoff race following the Bengals win over the Titans, but they were able to firm their position ahead of the Patriots. The Bengals picked up a crucial game on Baltimore after the Ravens lost a stunner to Jacksonville on a late Jaguars two-point conversion. Baltimore and Cincinnati are tied atop the AFC North, but the Ravens have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Dolphins handled their business with ease against the Texans, winning 30-15 and getting some playing time for their backups. Miami moves back into first place in the AFC East, moving up to second place overall in the conference and dropping Buffalo to fifth in the conference.
The Bucs had a chance to take a big step up in the NFC South after the Falcons loss. However, the Bucs gave up a late game-tying score and then lost in overtime. Meanwhile, the Browns get back suspended QB Deshaun Watson with a big win under their belts.
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The Chargers beat the Cardinals on a last-second two-point conversion. LA will remain three games back of the Chiefs, who beat the Rams 26-10. Arizona drops 3.5 games back of the 49ers in the NFC West and is in 13th place overall in the AFC. They’re far from eliminated, but they’re not going in the right direction.
The 49ers shut out the Saints in the afternoon to maintain their position in first place. They now take a full one-game lead on the Seahawks, who lost in overtime to the Raiders. Seattle and San Francisco face off in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football. Las Vegas remains well out of the playoff picture with a 4-7 record, sitting three games back of the Bengals and Jets.
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The Eagles won a shootout over the Packers, capping it with a key 54-yard field goal to secure a 40-30 win. Jordan Love replaced an injured Aaron Rodgers and made things interesting, but it wasn’t enough and Philadelphia improved to 10-1. The Packers are effectively done in the playoff race while the Eagles retain their top spot in the NFC.
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The Steelers beat the Colts and that might just about do it for Indy’s faint playoff chances. They’re not mathematically eliminated, but it’s hard to see them turning this thing around.
Here’s a look at what the playoff picture looks like on Sunday. We’ll update through each window as the league works its way through Week 12.
AFC playoff picture
8. New England Patriots, 6-5
9. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-5
10. Indianapolis Colts, 4-7-1
11. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-7
12. Las Vegas Raiders, 4-7
13. Cleveland Browns, 4-7
14. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-7
15. Denver Broncos, 3-8
16. Houston Texans, 1-9-1
NFC playoff picture
8. Seattle Seahawks, 6-5
9. Atlanta Falcons 5-7
10. Detroit Lions, 4-7
11. Green Bay Packers, 4-8
12. New Orleans Saints, 4-8
13. Arizona Cardinals, 4-8
14. Carolina Panthers, 4-8
15. Los Angeles Rams, 3-7
16. Chicago Bears, 3-9