December is upon us and the race for playoff bids is heating up across the NFL. We have our first two clinching scenarios of the season, and that will only increase in the coming weeks until the bracket for the 2023 NFL Playoffs is settled.
The Vikings and Eagles can both clinch a playoff berth this weekend with wins and some help. The Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title with a win and a Lions loss or tie. The Eagles cannot clinch the NFC East just yet, but they can clinch a playoff berth with a win and losses by the Commanders, 49ers, and Seahawks. Ties can factor into both scenarios as well.
The week got underway on Thursday with the Bills beating the Patriots 24-10. It moved Buffalo into first place in the AFC East and second in the conference pending Sunday’s Dolphins-49ers outcome.
The two biggest games on the slate are Commanders-Giants and Chiefs-Bengals. There’s plenty of big inter-conference matchups, but these two impact tiebreakers in a bigger way. Jets-Vikings, Titans-Eagles, and Dolphins-49ers are interesting, but have less bigger-picture implications.
1 p.m. window results
The big winner and loser of the early slate were the Ravens. They lost Lamar Jackson to injury, but Tyler Huntley came on and helped them grind out an ugly win with a last minute touchdown drive. They escaped with the win over Denver to retain their division lead.
The Eagles wrapped up a dominating win over the Titans. It was at home, but regardless, it was a statement effort for Philadelphia against a playoff contender. The Titans remain atop the AFC South, but they give the Colts some hope with that loss.
Elsewhere, the Vikings edged out the Jets 27-22 and remain hot on the heels of the Eagles. The Jets remain in the final AFC wild card berth for the time-being, but they’ll have their eyes on the Chargers-Raiders game.
And somehow, the Commanders and Giants finished in a tie. You could argue it doesn’t help or hurt the two teams, or it both helps and hurts them. They’ll exit Week 13 in the sixth and seventh spots in the NFC playoff picture.
4 p.m. window results
The afternoon window shook things up in the AFC and offered a little bit of movement in the NFC. The 49ers beat the Dolphins 33-17 and that drops Miami a game back of the Bills. The Bengals beat the Chiefs 27-24, which dropped Kansas City to second in the AFC and moved Buffalo into first. The Raiders beat the Chargers, which drops LA to ninth place in the conference.
On the NFC side of the playoff picture, the Seahawks’ win over the Rams coupled with the Commanders-Giants tie moves Seattle ahead of Washington in the playoff standings and thus into the final wild card berth.
Sunday Night Football results
The game isn’t over, but we’re calling it. The Cowboys lead 34-19 with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter and just picked off Matt Ryan. Dallas is going to improve to 9-3 and remains a game and a half back of the Eagles in the NFC East. They are in fifth place overall with the top wild card and will head into Week 14 with just under a two-game lead on the sixth-place Giants.
Monday Night Football results
The Bucs came back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Saints on Monday. They move to 1.5 games up on the Falcons and are in firm control of a mediocre NFC South.
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 13.
AFC playoff picture
8. New England Patriots, 6-6
9. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-6
10. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-7
11. Cleveland Browns, 5-7
12. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-7
13. Indianapolis Colts, 4-8-1
14. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-8
15. Denver Broncos, 3-9
16. Houston Texans, 1-10-1
NFC playoff picture
8. Washington Commanders, 7-5-1
9. Detroit Lions, 5-7
10. Green Bay Packers, 5-8
11. Atlanta Falcons 5-8
12. Arizona Cardinals, 4-8
13. Carolina Panthers, 4-8
14. New Orleans Saints, 4-9
15. Los Angeles Rams, 3-9
16. Chicago Bears, 3-10