NFL Playoff Picture For Week 12

The NFL Playoff picture usually starts to get clearer once the month of December starts to approach. Super Bowl aspirations that were once a goal at the start of training camp begin to either live or die as the weeks go on. As of week 12, the talk of the NFL has been the Dallas Cowboys, who are surprisingly owners of the NFL’s best record (9-1). The Cowboys, led by rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, have followed the blueprint of emphasizing power football to create balance on offense while showcasing a stout defense. This formula has led to their best start since their 2007 NFL season.

Of course, the Cowboys aren’t the only potential playoff team to watch for. The Oakland Raiders have enormous potential to make their first NFL playoff appearance since their Super Bowl run in the 2002 season. Raiders quarterback David Carr has proven so far he could be the future of the franchise, throwing for 20 touchdowns to only four interceptions.

Derek Carr [Image by Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

As always, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks remain a perennial power in the league, in which the Patriots and Seahawks each sit at the top of their divisions (AFC East and NFC West). They also hold 8-2 and 7-2-1 records, respectively. For these two teams, being a playoff team haven’t just become routine, they see becoming a playoff team helps their franchise measure whether or not they have had a successful season or not.

Below are the AFC and NFC standings which gives a glimpse toward the NFL playoff picture, courtesy of Bleacher Report.

AFC East W L T
New England Patriots 8 2 0
Miami Dolphins 6 4 0
Buffalo Bills 5 5 0
New York Jets 3 7 0
AFC North W L T
Baltimore Ravens 5 5 0
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 5 0
Cincinnati Bengals 3 6 1
Cleveland Browns 0 11 0
AFC South W L T
Houston Texans 6 3 0
Indianapolis Colts 5 5 0
Tennessee Titans 5 6 0
Jacksonville Jaguars 2 8 0
AFC West W L T
Oakland Raiders 7 2 0
Kansas City Chiefs 7 3 0
Denver Broncos 7 3 0
San Diego Chargers 4 6 0
NFC East W L T
Dallas Cowboys 9 1 0
New York Giants 7 3 0
Washington Redskins 6 3 1
Philadelphia Eagles 5 5 0
NFC North W L T
Detroit Lions 6 4 0
Minnesota Vikings 6 4 0
Green Bay Packers 4 6 0
Chicago Bears 2 8 0
NFC South W L T
Atlanta Falcons 6 4 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 5 0
New Orleans Saints 4 6 0
Carolina Panthers 4 6 0
NFC West W L T
Seattle Seahawks 7 2 1
Arizona Cardinals 4 5 1
Los Angeles Rams 4 6 0
San Francisco 49ers 1 9

Quick notes;

  1. The Carolina Panthers, who were favored to repeat as NFC champions and Super Bowl contenders, have looked like a shell of the 15-1 team that dominated the NFL and media headlines a year ago. Reigning MVP Cam Newton also hasn’t had the season that vaulted him to superstar status in 2015. He’s thrown for 11 touchdowns to seven interceptions, while he continuously takes a beating on the field from opposing defenses. The Panthers face off against the Raiders this Sunday, in which the Raiders look to eventually nab their first NFL playoff birth since 2002 while the Panthers look for a big win to boost their NFL playoff chances.
  2. The Dallas Cowboys, who as aforementioned hold the best record in the NFL, face off against the Washington Redskins in an NFC East division showdown. The Redskins hold a 6-3-1 record and is currently in a race for the NFC wild card spot with the Minnesota Vikings, NFC East division foe the New York Giants, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Redskins must find a way to slow down the dynamic rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott has thrown for 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Prescott is also second in the NFL in QBR, trailing only Tom Brady. On Elliott’s end, he’s pounding the football for an NFL-leading 1102 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns. It wouldn’t be a surprise to many if either of the two win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the year or the NFL MVP. If the Cowboys stay focused, a top seed in the NFC playoffs won’t be too far-fetched.
  3. The Atlanta Falcons have bounced back from a disastrous end to their 2015 season, in which they finished 3-8 to end their season 8-8. So far, they are 6-4 and are leading the NFC South division. Although they are only 6-4, they must not be counted out as possible Super Bowl dark horses. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is having one of his best seasons since 2010, where he’s passed for 3247 yards, 24 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The Falcons face off against the Arizona Cardinals, who need a win (4-5-1) to keep their slim NFL playoff hopes alive.

Matt Ryan [Image by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]

Although the final NFL playoff standings won’t be final for a few weeks, the race toward those NFL playoffs will only begin to heat up from here.

[Featured Image by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]

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