Week 13 of the NFL season kicked off on Thursday night as the Eagles defeated the Houston Texans, which bolstered the former's playoff credentials and put the latter's in serious doubt. We're going to take a look at the rest of week 13 and see what the playoff picture could look like by Tuesday morning.
I ran the Yahoo! NFL playoff scenario generator through the end of the season based on current winning percentages and this is what it came up with. In the NFC, the Falcons & Eagles took the #1 and #2 seeds. The #6 seed Giants would travel to Chicago to take on the #3 seed Bears(who had the toughest remaining schedule in the league). Finally, the #5 seed Saints get the gift of heading to St Louis to take on the 8-8 Rams.
In the AFC, the Jets & Ravens took the top seeds. The #6 seed Steelers would go on the road to face the #3 Chiefs. Finally, we'd get yet another Patriots at Colts matchup in the other wildcard game.
Here's a division by division look at the playoff scenarios.
NFC East - Two teams alive
The Eagles sit atop the NFC East at 8-4, a record that the second place Giants can equal with a win at home over the Redskins tomorrow. Right now, the Eagles hold tiebreakers against the Giants with a better division record plus the head to head win. The two will play again this season and those tiebreakers could be out the window.
NFC North - Two teams alive
The Bears lead the division by a game over the Packers heading into a weekend where both teams are heavy favorites to get a win. This division will likely be decided by the week 17 matchup between these two teams.
NFC South - Three teams alive
This division has the Falcons, Saints, & Buccaneers in that order. The Falcons and Bucs play each other this weekend in what could be an elimination game for the Bucs. At 7-4 they're tied with Green Bay & New York for the final wildcard. At this point, it looks as if at least one wildcard comes out of this division. The other will likely be the runner up in the NFC East or North.
NFC West - Three teams alive
This division doesn't have a single team over .500 and the only squad getting into the playoffs is whoever gets the automatic berth by winning the division. There's an embarrassing possibility of the winner of this division being 7-9. The 49ers, who already have 7 losses are still in this because the Rams and Seahawks, who are tied atop, are 5-6.
AFC East - Two teams alive
Jets & Patriots play Monday night in a game that will likely decide this division. The lose probably gets a wildcard berth at worst.
AFC North - Two teams alive
Ditto above. The Ravens & Steelers play each other this weekend. If the Ravens win, they will have swept Pittsburgh and therefore defeat all possible tiebreakers. The Steelers would then need a total collapse from Baltimore to win this division. The loser likely gets the wildcard.
AFC South - Three teams alive
The Jaguars and Colts are both 6-5, while the Titans are only a game back at 5-6. To be fair, the Texans are 5-7, but they could be three games back at the end of the week which would pretty much bury them for the division. No wildcard will come out of the South, so there's three teams for one spot.
AFC West - Two teams alive
I'm going to write off Oakland, who are two games back in the division with no real hope for a wildcard. So that leaves the 7-4 Chiefs and the 6-5 Chargers. San Diego has a better conference record and if they get a win at home against the Chiefs in a few weeks they'll likely take this division. The Chiefs have a marginally tougher road to end the season. The Chargers probably can't afford more than one more loss to have even a shot at a wildcard. If Kansas City loses to the Chargers in two weeks, they could find themselves out of the playoffs even if it's their only loss from here on out.