Week 12 will feature several matchups that could start shaking up the NFL standings. Highlighted by the Broncos-Patriots tilt on Sunday night, a good portion of the games will have playoff implications in the AFC and NFC. In the NFC East, the Cowboys would retake the lead in the division from the Eagles with a win, but with a loss would allow the Giants to sneak into the hunt. In the AFC West, a Broncos loss and Chiefs win would allow Kansas City retake the AFC West for at least a week.
Several teams are alive in the chase for the NFC wild card, and the AFC is wide open. A good number of clubs are at or below .500 and are clawing to get back into contention for a postseason appearance. On some Sunday there could be several moving pieces.
1. NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
2. NFC South: New Orleans Saints (9-2)
3. NFC North: Detroit Lions (6-4)
4. NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)
The Saints and Seahawks have a stranglehold (for the moment) on their divisions, while the Lions and Eagles are a loss away from giving up their leads. With a win, the Cowboys are in control of the NFC West, while a Lions loss to the Buccaneers and a Bears win over the Rams would give Chicago sole possession of the NFC North. The Panthers can stay one game behind the Saints in the NFC South with a win over the Dolphins in Miami.
5. Carolina Panthers (7-3)
6. San Francisco 49ers (6-4)
The wild card in the NFC is very active. If the Cowboys win against the Giants and the 49ers lose to the Redskins on Monday, the Cardinals with a win or the Eagles would take over the finally wild card spot. If the Bears and Lions win, Chicago could also be in the mix. Along with the immediate contenders, The Packers could also get back in the conversation with a win over the Vikings. The Panthers will be in the wild card no matter what happens on Sunday.
AFC Playoff Picture
1. AFC West: Denver Broncos (9-1)
2. AFC East: New England Patriots (7-3)
3. AFC South: Indianapolis Colts (7-3)
4. AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
In the AFC the division leaders are mostly comfortable, except for the conference-leading Broncos. Denver has the Chiefs just behind them and with a Kansas City win and a loss from Peyton Manning's crew, Andy Reid will once again own the division lead. If the Colts win and the Patriots lose, the Colts will hold home-field advantage heading into Week 13.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
6. New York Jets (5-5)
The Chiefs are easily a playoff team, it's just a matter of if they are a division winner or the first wild card team. For the last wild card slot, the Jets are on shaky ground. If they lose and several other teams win, they may be swallowed into a scramble for the spot. The Dolphins would simply need to win against the Panthers and have the Jets lose to the Ravens for them to get the last playoff spot in the AFC. If both the Dolphins and Jets lose, the Chargers, Ravens and Steelers could be in the last slot.