NFL playoff picture 2013: Broncos hold onto top AFC seed despite Week 12 loss

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoff picture is getting a little weird.

You know the AFC Playoff picture is crowded when the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets both have realistic playoff aspirations despite being under .500 this season and recently struggling. But here we are, five weeks before the conclusion of the season, and the Titans have a playoff spot in the AFC.

The NFC isn't quite as weird, but if you thought the Arizona Cardinals were going to be in the postseason instead of the San Francisco 49ers before the season started, you were in the minority,

Here's a look at what the playoff matchups would look like if the postseason started tomorrow.

AFC Playoff Picture

Top seeds: No. 1 seed Denver Broncos (9-2), No. 2 seed New England Patriots (8-3)

The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots would have first-round byes if the playoffs started today. The Broncos would still be the top seed even after losing to the Patriots on Sunday Night Football.

Wild Card

No. 3 seed Indianapolis Colts (7-4) vs. No. 6 seed Tennessee Titans (5-6)

The AFC South is far from a juggernaut division in the NFL this season, but it could have two teams in the postseason. The Titans may have trouble holding onto this spot with quarterback Jake Locker out for the season. Tennessee has improved a bit, but far too often hasn't looked like a playoff team.

Meanwhile, the Colts have been blown out in consecutive weeks, first by the St. Louis Rams in Week 11 and then by the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. Will the Colts collapse down the stretch?

No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bengals No. 5 seed Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)

The Chiefs have now lost two straight games and have lost their footing at the top of the AFC West. They have a chance to get control back, though. A home game against the Denver Broncos looms on the schedule in Week 13 and will go a long way toward clearing up the playoff picture in the AFC.

In the hunt

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and New York Jets are all in the playoff picture and are seeded in that order at the moment. All four teams have 5-6 records, meaning the Titans don't have much breathing room.

NFC Playoff picture

Top seeds: No. 1 seed Seattle Seahawks (10-1), No. 2 seed New Orleans Saints (9-2)

The Seahawks were on bye and the Saints blew out the Falcons, so there are no changes to the top two seeds in the NFC. As for the rest of the conference ...

Wild Card

No. 3 seed Detroit Lions (6-5) vs. No. 6 seed Arizona Cardinals (7-4)

The Detroit Lions still lead the NFC North even after a loss in Week 12. The Packers and Bears are both playing without their starting quarterback, but are still right behind the Lions in the division race. Green Bay and Detroit meet on Thanksgiving in a crucial game for the division race.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals just keep on winning. They've knocked the San Francisco 49ers out of the playoffs at this point and are the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

No. 4 seed Dallas Cowboys (6-5) vs. No. 5 seed Carolina Panthers (8-3)

The New York Giants' winning streak finally is over. After winning four consecutive games and closing in on the Cowboys' division lead, New York lost to Dallas in Week 12, giving the Cowboys another week atop the standings. As we've learned in recent years, nothing is certain with the Cowboys in December.

Cam Newton pulled out another win for the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. The Panthers waited until the fourth quarter to edge the Dolphins, but Carolina is firmly in the playoff picture in the NFC with an 8-3 record.

In the hunt

The 49ers have not played their Week 12 game yet. They have a 6-4 record and could draw even with the Cardinals with a win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football. The Eagles are also in the hunt. A tiebreaker is the only thing separating them from the Cowboys at this point. In the NFC North, Thursday's game between the Packers and Lions could very well decide which team goes to the playoffs. But the Bears are also in the hunt with a 6-5 record.

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