AFC playoff picture: Week 15 to spotlight AFC South, Wild Card races

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When the NFL scheduled the Texans and Titans to play twice in the final three weeks of the season, it couldn’t have known that the divisional race would come down to those matchups.

That’s how things have worked out, though. The Texans have gone 4-3 over their last seven games while the Titans have gone 6-1 to close the gap ahead of their first meeting in Week 15. That will be one of the biggest games of the weekend, but not the only big one.

Sunday night will see the Bills and Steelers square off in a game that will help determine the Wild Card pecking order. The AFC South team that doesn’t win the division could factor into that race as well, so there’s still a lot to sort out even if the top of the conference is pretty well settled at this point.

Here’s how the entire playoff picture looks after Week 14:

1. Ravens (11-2) They’ve clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up at least the AFC North by beating the Jets on Thursday.

2. Patriots (10-3) Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs means they’ve now lost to all the other division leaders in the conference and they’ll likely be facing some of them again come January.

3. Chiefs (9-4) The offense hasn’t been as prolific as in the past, but they are AFC West champs again.

4. Texans (8-5) Getting blown out by the Broncos isn’t the preferred way to prepare for the surging Titans.

5. Bills (9-4) Their defense held up well against Baltimore, but the offense took a step back from Thanksgiving.

6. Steelers (8-5) Beating the Bills would make their improbable Wild Card bid tougher to stop.

7. Titans (8-5) The Titans posted 552 yards of offense on Sunday, so they may be peaking at the right time.

8. Browns (6-7) Sunday’s win was their fourth in five games, but it’s shaping up to be a case of too little, too late for Cleveland.

9. Raiders (6-7) Oakland’s been blown out three straight weeks to go from hopeful to just about hopeless on the playoff front.

10. Colts (6-7) Their inability to close out the Buccaneers all but closed out their playoff chances.

11. Broncos (5-8) They won’t make the playoffs, but they may have found their quarterback.

12. Chargers (5-8) No painful loss this weekend, but the Chargers are out of hope all the same.

13. Jets (5-8) Adam Gase beat his former team and that should allow the Jets stay out of the AFC East cellar this season.

14. Jaguars (4-9) Losing 45-10 to the Chargers showed the Jaguars need a lot more than a quarterback change to right the ship.

15. Dolphins (3-10) A pass interference review that went the Jets’ way and a failure to score touchdowns helped push them to a loss on Sunday.

16. Bengals (1-12) No winning streak for the Bengals as they got back to their losing ways against the Browns.

FMIA Week 14: How George Kittle and the ‘Choice’ Route Helped Lift 49ers Over Saints in the Game of the Year

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The game of the year in Week 14? Why not? Peter King opens Football morning in America with a look at the epic 49ers-Saints game, including an in-depth examination of the critical fourth-down play that put San Francisco in position to win. Also in the column:

• George Kittle explains the “choice” he made on the crucial catch-and-run.

• Drew Lock introduces himself to America and makes a case for why Denver doesn’t need to draft another quarterback.

• Some quick kudos for the Ravens and their uber-impressive 7-0 stretch.

• The Week 14 awards, including strong performances from Jimmy Garoppolo, Danielle Hunter, Austin Ekeler, Steve Spagnuolo and more.

• More thoughts, notes and opinions on the Chiefs-Patriots game; the current best choice for coach of the year; remembering a high school star.

• Plus 10 things, factoids, beernerdness and the old standby cough syrup that’s performed admirably recently. [more]

Week 14 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the 1 p.m. ET games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available 90 minutes ahead of kickoff.

Lions at Vikings

Lions: CB Jamal Agnew, QB Matthew Stafford, DL Da'shawn Hand, DL Austin Bryant, CB Michael Jackson, G Oday Aboushi, G Beau Benzschawel

Vikings: WR Adam Thielen, T Oli Udoh, T Aviante Collins, G Dru Samia, DT Jalyn Holmes, DT Hercules Mata’afa, LB Cameron Smith

Bengals at Browns

Bengals: WR A.J. Green, QB Jake Dolegala, CB Torry McTyer, G John Jerry, TE Mason Schreck, DE Sam Hubbard, OT Isaiah Prince

Browns: WR Taywan Taylor, S Eric Murray, DE Olivier Vernon, T Chris Hubbard, TE Pharaoh Brown, TE Demetrius Harris, DT Justin Zimmer

Ravens at Bills

Ravens: QB Trace McSorley, WR Jaleel Scott, CB Anthony Averett, CB Iman Marshall, C Hroniss Grasu, DT Justin Ellis, G Ben Powers

Bills: RB T.J. Yeldon, WR Duke Williams, TE Tommy Sweeney, T Ty Nsekhe, OL Ike Boettger, DT Vincent Taylor, S Dean Marlowe

Panthers at Falcons

Panthers: TE Greg Olsen, T Greg Little, DE Christian Miller, DT Woodrow Hamilton, OL Chris Reed, DT Stacy McGee, CB Corn Elder

Falcons: WR Brandon Powell, S Sharrod Neasman, DE John Cominsky, G Jamon Brown, T Ty Sambrailo, G James Carpenter, T Deadrin Senat

Washington at Packers

Washington: WR Paul Richardson, QB Colt McCoy, WR Trey Quinn, LB Josh Harvey-Clemons, CB Aaron Colvin, LB Chris Odom, C Ross Pierschbacher

Packers: WR Ryan Grant, CB Kevin King, RB Dexter Williams, CB Tony Brown, CB Ka’dar Hollman, OL Adam Pankey, T Yosh Nijmans

Broncos at Texans

Broncos: WR Juwann Winfree, CB Shakial Taylor, C Patrick Morris, LB Malik Reed, OL Ron Leary, OL Calvin Anderson, DL Jonathan Harris

Texans: WR Steven Mitchell, WR Will Fuller, S Mike Adams, CB Cornell Armstrong, RB Taiwan Jones, DE Carlos Watkins, DL Eddie Vanderdoes

49ers at Saints

49ers: DL Jullian Taylor, S Jaquiski Tartt, TE Levine Toilolo, QB C.J. Beathard, WR Dante Pettis, WR Marquise Goodwin, RB Jeff Wilson

Saints: CB Patrick Robinson, DB Saquan Hampton, FB Zach Line, LB A.J. Klein, LB Kiko Alonso, OL Will Clapp, OL Andrus Peat

Dolphins at Jets

Dolphins: CB Linden Stephens, G Shaq Calhoun, OL Evan Brown, WR Trevor Davis, DT Zach Sieler, DE Taco Charlton, LB Trent Harris

Jets: CB Arthur Maulet, RB Le'Veon Bell, S Jamal Adams, CB Brian Poole, LB Paul Worrilow, S Matthias Farley, T Chuma Edoga

Colts at Buccaneers

Colts: OL Le’Raven Clark, DT Trevon Coley, WR T.Y. Hilton, QB Chad Kelly, CB Kenny Moore, LB E.J. Speed, K Adam Vinatieri

Buccaneers: G Alex Cappa, LB Kahzin Daniels, T Jerald Hawkins, TE Jordan Leggett, RB T.J. Logan, WR Scotty Miller, LB Anthony Nelson

Week 14 injury report roundup

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Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season kicked off on Thursday with a win by the Bears and it continues with 14 more games on Sunday, which means that the 28 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their final injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Steelers at Cardinals

RB James Conner (shoulder) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) won’t play for the Steelers.

Cardinals G Max Garcia (toe), CB Byron Murphy (calf), CB Kevin Peterson (shoulder), C A.Q. Shipley (illness) and S Jalen Thompson (concussion) are questionable.

Bengals at Browns

The Bengals ruled out WR A.J. Green (ankle), DE Sam Hubbard (knee), TE Drew Sample (ankle) and S Brandon Wilson (hand) as they try for their second win of the season.

Browns CB Robert Jackson (ankle) is out and S Eric Murray (knee) is likely to sit after being listed as doubtful. TE Demetrius Harris (shoulder), T Christopher Hubbard (knee), C J.C. Tretter (knee) and DE Olivier Vernon (knee) are listed as questionable.

Ravens at Bills

The Ravens listed WR Marquise Brown (ankle), CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh), LB Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) and WR Seth Roberts (knee) as questionable.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle) is the only player on the Bills injury report and he’s been ruled out for Sunday.

Panthers at Falcons

T Greg Little (ankle) and TE Greg Olsen (concussion) won’t play for the Panthers. LB Mario Addison (groin) and T Garrett McGhin (ankle) are listed as questionable.

G James Carpenter (concussion) and T Ty Sambrailo (hamstring) are out for the Falcons. P Matt Bosher (right groin) and S Sharrod Neasman (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Washington at Packers

Washington S Deshazor Everett (shoulder), WR Trey Quinn (concussion) and WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) will not play this weekend.

Cornerbacks CB Tony Brown (heel) and CB Kevin King (shoulder) are listed as questionable for the Packers.

Broncos at Texans 

Broncos LB Von Miller (knee) is questionable after missing last week’s game. LB Malik Reed (ankle, shoulder) and T Ja'Wuan James (knee) are also questionable while G Ronald Leary (concussion) is out this week.

RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring) is the only player ruled out for the Texans. CB Gareon Conley (hip), WR Will Fuller (hamstring), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring, toe), LB Brennan Scarlett (shoulder) and DE Carlos Watkins (hamstring) make up the questionable group.

Lions at Vikings

QB Matthew Stafford (hip, back) is out again for the Lions. DE Da'shawn Hand (ankle) is also out while DE Austin Bryant (hip) is listed as doubtful. Cornerbacks Jamal Agnew (ankle) and Rashaan Melvin (ribs) are game-time decisions after landing questionable tags.

Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) is set to miss another game after being listed as doubtful. T Riley Reiff (concussion) is listed as questionable.

49ers at Saints

S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) and DT Jullian Taylor (elbow) won’t play for the 49ers. WR Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot), WR Dante Pettis (knee) and T Joe Staley (finger) are listed as questionable.

The Saints ruled out LB Kiko Alonso (thigh), LB A.J. Klein (knee), RB Zach Line (knee), G Andrus Peat (forearm) and TE Jason Vander Laan (head). T Terron Armstead (ankle), C Will Clapp (elbow) and CB Patrick Robinson (calf) are listed as questionable.

Dolphins at Jets

The Dolphins didn’t hand out any injury designations this week.

S Jamal Adams (ankle) is set to miss Sunday’s game after being listed as doubtful and CB Brian Poole (concussion) is out for the Jets. T Chuma Edoga (knee), S Matthias Farley (ankle, rib) and CB Arthur Maulet (calf) are also listed as doubtful. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), T Kelvin Beachum (ankles), RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), CB Maurice Canady (illness, quadricep), TE Ryan Griffin (illness), DT Steve McLendon (knee, hip), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) and LB Paul Worrilow (quadricep) make up a sizable questionable contingent.

Colts at Buccaneers

WR T.Y. Hilton (calf), CB Kenny Moore (ankle) and K Adam Vinatieri (left knee) are out for the Colts. S Malik Hooker (foot) and CB Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) are listed as questionable.

The Buccaneers ruled out G Alex Cappa (elbow), RB T.J. Logan (thumb), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring). Cornerbacks Jamel Dean (shoulder) and M.J. Stewart (knee) both drew questionable tags.

Chargers at Jaguars

Chargers LB Nick Dzubnar (concussion) is listed as questionable.

TE Seth DeValve (oblique) is listed as doubtful for the Jaguars. S Ronnie Harrison (concussion) is tagged as questionable.

Chiefs at Patriots

Chiefs CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Rashad Fenton (hamstring) and RB Damien Williams (rib) won’t play on Sunday. DE Frank Clark (shoulder, illness) and S Jordan Lucas (illness) are listed as questionable.

LB Ja'whaun Bentley (knee), T Marcus Cannon (illness), S Patrick Chung (heel), DT Byron Cowart (head), WR Julian Edelman (shoulder), C Ted Karras (knee), CB Jason McCourty (groin) and WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) make up the Patriots injury report. All of them are listed as questionable.

Titans at Raiders

The Titans won’t have LB Daren Bates (shoulder), WR Adam Humphries (ankle), CB Adoree' Jackson (foot) and CB LeShaun Sims (ankle). WR Tajae Sharpe (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder) is questionable for the Raiders after returning for a limited practice on Friday. T Trent Brown (pectoral), WR Hunter Renfrow (rib) and LB Kyle Wilber (ankle) have all been ruled.

Seahawks at Rams

Seahawks pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney (core) and Ziggy Ansah (neck) are listed as questionable. CB Neiko Thorpe (core) has been ruled out. RB Nick Bellore (quadricep), LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) and TE Luke Willson (hamstring) are listed as doubtful.

The Rams ruled out TE Gerald Everett (knee). T Rob Havenstein (knee) is listed as doubtful.

PFT’s Week 14 picks

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I’m still 10 games back, with four weeks left. It’s over.

But it’s not done. We’ll continue to pick the games, and at times we’ll continue to disagree. This week, we disagree on three of the 16 games.

We both went 9-7 last week, which isn’t good. For the year, MDS is now 127-65. I’m at 117-75.

For this week’s picks, keep on scrolling.

Cowboys at Bears

MDS’s take: The Cowboys are a better team than their 6-6 record suggests, and Dak Prescott having a big game in prime time against a good Bears defense may change some perceptions around the league.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: The Cowboys are better than 6-6 would suggest, and the Bears are worse than 6-6 would suggest. Which of course means the Bears are going to win, but I still have fairytale faith in the underachievers from Dallas.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 16.

Colts at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Buccaneers are coming on strong, probably too late to make a run to the playoffs, but not too late to create some excitement that Bruce Arians is building something in Tampa.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 30, Colts 17.

Florio’s take: The Bucs are rising, the Colts are reeling.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Colts 20.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: With last place in the AFC East on the line, the Jets will show they’re not the worst team in the division.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Dolphins 17.

Florio’s take: Adam Gase gets another shot at revenge. It would help to have Jamal Adams.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 17.

49ers at Saints

MDS’s take: This is a huge game in the NFC playoff race, particularly for the 49ers, who could go either way between earning home-field advantage, or having to play three road games to get to the Super Bowl. I see a painful loss for San Francisco.

MDS’s pick: Saints 21, 49ers 20.

Florio’s take: The 49ers wisely stayed in Florida for the week, and their decision to give up a week at home will increase their chances of staying home for the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 27, Saints 23.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings will rebound from Monday night’s loss with an easy win over a lousy Lions team.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 30, Lions 14.

Florio’s take: A get-right game for the Vikings against a Lions team that is playing out the string in potential a haze of business decisions.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Lions 13.

Broncos at Texans

MDS’s take: Drew Lock vs. Deshaun Watson. Advantage, Houston.

MDS’s pick: Texans 31, Broncos 13.

Florio’s take: Drew Lock is 1-0 as a starter. He won’t be 1-0 as a starter after Sunday.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Broncos 13.

Washington at Packers

MDS’s take: Washington is somehow on a two-game winning streak, but I can’t see any way it goes to three in Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Washington 12.

Florio’s take: Aaron Rodgers wants Packers fans to drink plenty before kickoff, in order to be loud. Washington fans are used to drinking after kickoff, for entirely different reasons.

Florio’s pick: Packers 35, Washington 17.

Bengals at Browns

MDS’s take: The Browns have had a disappointing season, but they still get to play the Bengals twice more, so a couple more wins are all but certain, starting Sunday in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Browns 24, Bengals 7.

Florio’s take: Cleveland officially has entered desperation territory. Even if they run the table, however, it likely won’t be good enough.

Florio’s pick: Browns 31, Bengals 21.

Ravens at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills could make a huge statement in the AFC playoff race with a win over the Ravens, but I don’t see it happening. Lamar Jackson is just too good for the Bills’ defense to stop.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 27, Bills 13.

Florio’s take: The Ravens currently are operating on a level higher than every other team. And they’ll continue to do unless and until Lamar Jackson suffers an injury.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 23, Bills 17.

Panthers at Falcons

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is going anywhere, but the Panthers are more likely to go into a full-on collapse after the firing of Ron Rivera.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take: The Falcons got extra time to get ready, and the Panthers got thrown into disarray five days before kickoff.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, Panthers 24.

Chargers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Going back to Gardner Minshew was the right call for the Jaguars, who should go back to their winning ways after losing every game started by Nick Foles.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 24, Chargers 21.

Florio’s take: Minshew Mania > Rivers Regret.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 27, Chargers 21.

Titans at Raiders

MDS’s take: Ryan Tannehill has the Titans heading toward the playoffs, and he’ll help them to another big win in Oakland.

MDS’s pick: Titans 27, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take: The Raiders are down to two games left at the Coliseum, and Derek Carr could be down to four games left with the Raiders.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 23, Titans 20.

Chiefs at Patriots

MDS’s take: The AFC Championship Game rematch will be a lower-scoring game than it was when these teams met in January, but he result will be the same, the Patriots winning a close one.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 20, Chiefs 17.

Florio’s take: Go ahead and write off the Patriots.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Chiefs 20.

Steelers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Steelers were once 0-3 and now they’re in playoff contention with an undrafted rookie at quarterback. If Mike Tomlin keeps winning he’s the coach of the year.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Cardinals 21.

Florio’s take: The Steelers keep finding ways to win, which makes them a very dangerous team in January — if they get there.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 21, Cardinals 17.

Seahawks at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams aren’t going down without a fight, but I just think the Seahawks are too good for them right now, and a loss on Sunday night pretty much ends the Rams’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Rams 17.

Florio’s take: The Seahawks keep finding ways to win prime-time games. The fact that this will be Pete Carroll’s last game at the Coliseum makes it an even bigger deal.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 24.

Giants at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles laid an egg last week against the Dolphins, and I just can’t see them playing that badly against bad teams two weeks in a row.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 21, Giants 17.

Florio’s take: If the Eagles can’t beat the Giants, the Eagles have no business being in the playoffs. (Then again, if the Eagles can beat the Giants, the Eagles likely have no business being in the playoffs.)

Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Giants 13.

Week 14 power rankings

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1. Ravens (10-2; last week No. 1): The best team in the AFC finally holds the No. 1 seed.

2. Seahawks (10-2; No. 3): No one shows up in big moments like the Seahawks.

3. Saints (10-2; No. 5): They’re on a collision course with the 49ers on Sunday; they could be on a collision course with the 49ers in January.

4. 49ers (10-2; No. 2): From 8-0 and smooth sailing to rough seas and possibly the No. 5 seed.

5. Patriots (10-2; No. 4): Go ahead and bury the Patriots — it plays into their hands.

6. Texans (8-4; No. 9): From a 41-7 blowout loss in Baltimore to big wins over the Colts and Patriots, the Texans have quickly turned their season around.

7. Packers (9-3; No. 7): The division title is theirs for the taking, as long as they don’t stub their toe against Washington, the Bears, or the Lions.

8. Chiefs (8-4; No. 8): Last year’s flavor of the month feels like week-old turkey in 2019.

9. Bills (9-3; No. 10): Yes, No. 9 may be too low; beat the Ravens and Buffalo will crash the top five.

10. Vikings (8-4; No. 6): It’s not the end of the world, but it’s the start of what would be a Super Bowl run the very hard way.

11. Steelers (7-5; No. 11): One week at a time, Mike Tomlin is earning coach of the year consideration.

12. Titans (7-5; No. 12): The team no one notices is putting everyone on notice.

13. Rams (7-5; No. 17): The schedule will be getting a lot tougher down the stretch, but if they play like they did against the Cardinals it won’t matter.

14. Cowboys (6-6; No. 13): A Super Bowl run isn’t as crazy as it sounds, but at some point it would make sense to win a game.

15. Bears (6-6; No. 20): The Bears are back — and they’ll soon be back to the cold, hard reality of a team that isn’t nearly as good as it was in 2018.

16. Raiders (6-6; No. 14): Derek Carr may never actually reside in the house that he’s building in Las Vegas.

17. Colts (6-6; No. 15): If they fail to make it to the playoffs, they can blame their stubborn refusal to upgrade at the kicker position.

18. Buccaneers (5-7; No. 22): They may win just enough games to justify giving Jameis Winston one more chance to prove that he deserves another chance.

19. Browns (5-7; No. 16): Pittsburgh may not have started it, but they definitely finished it. And “it” includes Cleveland’s playoff hopes.

20. Eagles (5-7; No. 18): The Philly Special feels like a long-faded memory.

21. Panthers (5-7; No. 19): Two late-season collapses in two seasons won’t do much to prevent major changes from happening in Charlotte.

22. Broncos (4-8; No. 26): This team isn’t all that far from contending, and if Drew Lock is the real deal next year could get real interesting.

23. Jets (4-8; No. 21): It was fun while it lasted.

24. Chargers (4-8; No. 23): If the goal was to lose a game in every way possible, congratulations.

25. Jaguars (4-8; No. 24): Minshew Mania is back, but until the Coughlin Condundrum is resolved it will be impossible to know where this team is heading next.

26. Falcons (3-9; No. 25): With cap issues galore and key veteran players under contract, it could make sense to stay the course until it becomes easier to rebuild the roster.

27. Washington (3-9; No. 29): There’s nothing like news of Bruce Allen being on the hot seat to wash away some of the dysfunction.

28. Lions (3-8-1; No. 27): Cleaning house two years into a major culture change would be the ultimate Lions thing to do.

29. Dolphins (3-9; No. 30): They’re playing for nothing, but they’re laying the foundation for everything.

30. Cardinals (3-8-1; No. 28): The record doesn’t reflect it, but there’s plenty of hope for the future. As long as they can get Kyler Murray some help.

31. Bengals (1-11; No. 32): Be careful, Bengals; you don’t want to screw up the first overall pick that you’ve worked so hard to earn.

32. Giants (2-9; No. 31): Somewhere, Ben McAdoo is smiling. While wearing an oversized suit and sporting a scalp full of Brylcreem.

NFC playoff picture: A shakeup at the top

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There’s a new team atop the NFC West and a new team holding down the No. 1 seed in the conference as we head into the final four weeks of the regular season.

Wins by the Saints last Thursday night and the Seahawks on Monday night coupled with the 49ers’ loss in Baltimore means that the Niners are now looking up at both teams after holding down their spot at the top for the first three months of the season.

That’s the most significant change to the way things are shaping up in the NFC. Here’s how the entire playoff picture looks with Week 13 in the books:

1. Saints(10-2) They’ve clinched the NFC South and a win over the 49ers at home this week will cement their spot at the top of the conference.

2. Seahawks (10-2) Monday’s win was their fifth in a row and they’ll be in first as long as the wins keep coming.

3. Packers (9-3) The Packers are at home the next two weeks before a Week 16 road date with the Vikings that could settle the NFC North.

4. Cowboys (6-6) They missed another opportunity to strengthen their hold on the NFC East and they’ll get another one Thursday in Chicago.

5. 49ers (10-2) They’ll have to adjust from being chased to being the chaser over the final weeks of the season.

6. Vikings (8-4) Head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday’s loss wasn’t the end of the world and they can right their ship against the reeling Lions this week.

7. Rams (7-5) The offense finally came to life against Arizona; Can they get the same production against the Seahawks this week?

8. Bears (6-6) Beating the Lions keeps some hope alive, but a loss to the Cowboys would all but extinguish it.

9. Buccaneers (5-7) While they keep fighting and the schedule isn’t overly daunting, the Bucs likely dug themselves too deep a hole.

10. Eagles (5-7) As long as the Cowboys keep losing, the Eagles have a chance to snatch the NFC East if they can figure out how to win a few games.

11. Panthers (5-7) The playoffs would have been a long shot with a win over Washington and now they’re a pipe dream.

12. Washington (3-9) They can’t earn a Wild Card, but could still win the NFC East.

13. Lions (3-8-1) David Blough didn’t look overmatched in his NFL debut, although it still added up to another loss for the Lions.

14. Cardinals (3-8-1) Arizona’s given up at least 400 yards in each of the last five games and nine times overall this season.

15. Falcons (3-9) They’ve reverted to form the last two weeks and that’s probably not good news for head coach Dan Quinn.

16. Giants (2-10) If Andy Dalton can dial up another win or two in Cincinnati, the Giants may be on the clock the second the regular season ends.

FMIA Week 13: Featuring a Duck and a Darkhorse, Playoff Picture Fills Out

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With four weeks to go, the NFL playoff picture is taking shape. Peter King opens Football Morning in America Week 13 with a look at six items to ponder—a Duck? a darkhorse?—as the postseason draws near. Also in the column:

• The Steelers focus on football—and not T-shirts—and finish the fight against the Browns.

• Justin Tucker wanted a longer kick, but settles for a 49-yard walkoff winner in the game of the day.

• Three reasons to buy the Bills, and how the Texans finally got past the big, bad Patriots.

• The Week 13 awards, including strong performances from Jared Goff, Devin White, Taysom Hill and more.

• More thoughts, notes and opinions on five coaches who are in serious trouble; the easy top 2 of the 2020 draft; the hereditary toughness of George Kittle.

• Plus 10 things, factoids, a travel note, coffeenerdness and the beer I’ve been neglecting but will be trying again soon. [more]

Week 13 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the 1 p.m. ET games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available 90 minutes ahead of kickoff.

Eagles at Dolphins

Eagles: RB Jordan Howard, QB Nate Sudfeld, CB Sidney Jones, G Nate Herbig, DE Shareef Miller, OL Matt Pryor, DE Daeshon Hall

Dolphins: S Steven Parker, CB Ken Crawley, DT Gerald Willis, OL Chris Reed, T Isaiah Prince, OL Keaton Sutherland, LB Trent Harris

49ers at Ravens

49ers: DE Dee Ford, WR Dante Pettis, QB C.J. Beathard, K Chase McLaughlin, RB Matt Breida, T Joe Staley, TE Levine Toilolo

Ravens: QB Trace McSorley, WR Jaleel Scott, S Bennett Jackson, CB Anthony Averett, CB Iman Marshall, G Ben Powers, DT Zach Sieler

Washington at Panthers

Washington: LB Ryan Kerrigan, WR Paul Richardson, QB Colt McCoy, RB Wendell Smallwood, OL Ross Pierschbacher, CB Aaron Colvin, S Jeremy Reaves

Panthers: DE Wes Horton, OL Brad Lundblade, LB  Marquis Haynes, LB Jordan Kunaszyk, WR Brandon Zylstra, CB Corn Elder, T Greg Little

Jets at Bengals

Jets: T Chuma Edoga, LB C.J. Mosley, LB Paul Worrilow, CB Nate Hairston, DB Blake Countess, CB Kyron Brown, RB Josh Adams

Bengals: WR A.J. Green, TE Drew Sample, TE Cethan Carter, OL John Jerry, QB Jake Dolegala, CB Torry McTyer, DE Anthony Zettel

Titans at Colts

Titans: CB LeShaun Sims, WR Tajae Sharpe, OL Kevin Pamphile, OL Hroniss Grasu, DL Matt Dickerson, LB Reggie Gilbert, LB Derick Roberson

Colts: WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Marlon Mack, WR Parris Campbell, OL Le’Raven Clark, DT Trevon Coley, QB Chad Kelly, CB Quincy Wilson

Buccaneers at Jaguars

Buccaneers: WR Scott Miller, LB Anthony Nelson, CB M.J. Stewart, LB Kahzin Daniels, T Jerald Hawkins, TE Jordan Leggett, G Aaron Stinnie

Jaguars: LB Myles Jack, TE Seth DeValve, S Ronnie Harrison, QB Josh Dobbs, CB Tae Hayes, OL Brandon Thomas, DT Dontavius Russell

Packers at Giants

Packers: WR Ryan Grant, RB Dexter Williams, S Will Redmond, CB Tony Brown, CB Ka’dar Hollman, OL Adam Pankey, T Yosh Nijman

Giants: TE Evan Engram, WR Golden Tate, S Jabrill Peppers, TE Rhett Ellison, G Chad Slade, T Eric Smith, QB Alex Tanney

Browns at Steelers

Browns: S Eric Murray, T Greg Robinson, DE Chris Smith, TE Pharaoh Brown, S Damarious Randall, OL Drew Forbes, WR Taywan Taylor.

Steelers: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, QB Paxton Lynch, CB Artie Burns, RB James Conner, LB Tuzar Skipper, OL Chukwuma Okorafor, TE Zach Gentry

Week 13 injury report roundup

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Week 13 of the 2019 NFL season kicked off on Thursday with wins by the Bears, Bills and Saints and it continues with 12 more games on Sunday, which means that the 24 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their final injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

49ers at Ravens

49ers DE Dee Ford (quadricep, hamstring) and WR Dante Pettis (knee) won’t be playing in Baltimore. RB Matt Breida (ankle) and T Joe Staley (finger) could be back in the lineup after drawing questionable tags.

WR Miles Boykin (ankle), TE Nick Boyle (ankle), C Bradley Bozeman (ankle), LB Matt Judon (ankle), DT Domata Peko (knee) and DT Michael Pierce (ankle) are all listed as questionable to be in the Ravens lineup.

Washington at Panthers

LB Ryan Kerrigan (concussion) is out for Washington, which means his streak of consecutive starts ends at 139 games. WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) is also out while DT Da’Ron Payne (ankle) and RB Chris Thompson (toe) are listed as questionable.

T Greg Little (ankle) probably won’t play after being listed as doubtful by the Panthers. T Taylor Moton (knee) and S Eric Reid (ankle, shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Jets at Bengals

The Jets ruled T Chuma Edoga (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin) and LB Paul Worrilow (quadricep) out for this weekend. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), T Kelvin Beachum (ankles), S Matthias Farley (quadricep), G Alex Lewis (elbow), DT Steve McLendon (neck), CB Darryl Roberts (calf) and WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) make up the team’s questionable group.

Bengals WR A.J. Green (foot) will miss his 12th game of the season. Tight ends Cethan Carter (concussion) and Drew Sample (ankle) are also out. LB Nick Vigil (ankle) is their lone questionable player.

Titans at Colts

RB Derrick Henry (hamstring) didn’t get an injury designation, but the Titans did rule out CB LeShaun Sims (ankle).

WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) and RB Marlon Mack (hand) won’t be in the Colts lineup for the AFC South matchup. TE Mo Alie-Cox (thumb), WR Parris Campbell (hand), S Khari Willis (concussion) and CB Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) make up their questionable contingent.

Buccaneers at Jaguars

The Buccaneers won’t have WR Scott Miller (hamstring), LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring) and CB M.J. Stewart (knee) in the lineup. LB Carl Nassib (illness) is tagged as questionable for Sunday.

TE Seth DeValve (oblique) and S Ronnie Harrison (concussion) are out for the Jaguars. CB Tre Herndon (shoulder) and LB Myles Jack (knee) are listed as questionable.

Eagles at Dolphins

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (hamstring) and RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) were limited in practice Friday before being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

The Dolphins have some questions in their secondary this weekend. CB Ken Crawley (shoulder), CB Ryan Lewis (chest), S Steven Parker (groin) and CB Ken Webster (ankle) are all listed as questionable.

Packers at Giants

The Packers listed three players — CB Tony Brown (heel), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Will Redmond (foot) — as questionable for Sunday’s game.

The Giants ruled out LS Zak DeOssie (knee, wrist), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), TE Evan Engram (foot), S Jabrill Peppers (back) and WR Golden Tate (concussion) as they try to avoid an eighth-straight loss.

Browns at Steelers

The Browns may get DE Olivier Vernon (knee) back after he missed the last three games. WR KhaDarel Hodge (Achilles) and T Greg Robinson (concussion) are also listed as questionable while S Eric Murray (knee) is out.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) is out again for the Steelers and RB James Conner (shoulder) is set to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. CB Artie Burns (knee) is considered questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

The Rams won’t have TE Gerald Everett (knee), T Rob Havenstein (knee) and CB Darious Williams (ankle) in the lineup in Arizona.

QB Kyler Murray (hamstring) was a Friday addition to the Cardinals injury report. He’s listed as questionable after a full practice. DE Jonathan Bullard (foot) is also listed as questionable.

Raiders at Chiefs 

WR Hunter Renfrow (rib) is out for the Raiders. T Trent Brown (knee) is listed as questionable after sitting out Friday’s practice.

RB Damien Williams (rib) will not play for the Chiefs. No one else received an injury designation for Kansas City.

Chargers at Broncos

Chargers WR Geremy Davis (hamstring), T Russell Okung (groin) and T Sam Tevi (knee) are all listed as questionable.

The Broncos have a larger group of questionable players. CB Duke Dawson (concussion), DE Shelby Harris (ankle), T Ja'Wuan James (knee), LB Josey Jewell (ankle), LB A.J. Johnson (knee) and LB Von Miller (knee) all drew that tag for Week 13.

Patriots at Texans

The Patriots went big for this week’s injury report. Seventeen players landed questionable tags for Sunday night. They are LB Ja'whaun Bentley (knee), T Marcus Cannon (illness), S Patrick Chung (illness, heel), LB Jamie Collins (illness), DT Byron Cowart (head), WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion), S Nate Ebner (ankle, back), WR Julian Edelman (shoulder), G Jermaine Eluemunor (illness), CB Stephon Gilmore (illness), LB Dont'a Hightower (illness), CB Jason McCourty (groin), WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle), WR Matt Slater (hamstring), LB Kyle Van Noy (illness), CB Joejuan Williams (illness) and T Isaiah Wynn (illness). TE Ryan Izzo (illness) is the only player ruled out.

The Texans don’t expect to have T Tytus Howard (knee) after listing him as doubtful. DE Angelo Blackson (shoulder), CB Gareon Conley (hip) and LB Brennan Scarlett (shoulder) are listed as questionable while DE Carlos Watkins (hamstring) has been ruled out.

Saints clinch NFC South, 11 playoff spots to go

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The New Orleans Saints are the champions of the NFC South after their Thanksgiving victory over the Falcons. Eleven more playoff spots await.

The Bills’ victory over the Cowboys makes 9-3 Buffalo a near-lock to earn an AFC wild card berth. The Bills have almost no chance of catching 10-1 New England in the AFC East, but the other AFC wild card contenders — the Steelers, Raiders, Colts, Titans and Browns — all have almost no chance of catching the Bills. And remember, two of those teams would have to pass the Bills in the standings to knock Buffalo out of the playoffs.

With the 6-6 Cowboys losing, they and the 5-6 Eagles are locked in a close NFC East race. They meet in December in Philadelphia in a very big game.

The AFC South remains a close race, with the winner of Sunday’s game between the 6-5 Titans and 6-5 Colts likely to battle the 7-4 Texans down to the wire.

In the AFC West, the 6-5 Raiders likely need to upset the 7-4 Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday. If the Chiefs win that game they’ll have a two-game lead in the division and the tiebreaker advantage.

The 9-2 Ravens have the AFC North basically locked up and are hoping to win out and catch the Patriots for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. On Sunday Baltimore hosts the 10-1 49ers, who currently sit atop the NFC but are only a game ahead of the 9-2 Seahawks, who are the leaders in the wild card race. Whoever doesn’t win the NFC West between the 49ers and Seahawks will be a very good wild card team and likely a road favorite over the Cowboys or Eagles in the first round of the playoffs.

The 8-3 Packers currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the 8-3 Vikings in the NFC North, but those teams meet again in Minnesota in Week 16.

The long shots in the NFC are the 6-5 Rams and 6-6 Bears, whose Thanksgiving win was probably too little, too late to get into a crowded playoff field.

PFT’s Week 13 picks

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It’s probably over. OK, it’s over.

With five weeks to go, MDS has built a 10-game cushion. It’s going to be very hard for me to catch, especially if (as this week) we’re only going to disagree on one game.

I was 9-5 last week, and MDS went 11-3. For the year, he’s now 118-58. I’m at 108-68.

Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: The Bears are still clinging to remote playoff hopes, while the Lions’ season is spiraling downward. This will be an ugly game to watch before your turkey.

MDS’s pick: Bears 19, Lions 6.

Florio’s take: The Bears scratch and claw toward what would be one of the most unlikely playoff berths in years. They won’t get there, but it’s fun to watch.

Florio’s pick: Bears 20, Lions 10.

Bills at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Jason Garrett needs to bounce back from the loss that made his boss say he got out-coached. I think the Cowboys’ offense will prove too much for the Bills’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett seems to be at his best when he is desperate. On Thursday, he is desperate.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 23, Bills 16.

Saints at Falcons

MDS’s take: Can the Falcon upset the Saints on Thanksgiving night, just as they did in New Orleans a couple weeks ago? I don’t see it happening.

MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take: The push for a bye, and possibly the top seed, continues with a shot at righting the wrong of an ugly home loss to the Falcons.

Florio’s pick: Saints 38, Falcons 31.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: The winner of this game will be well positioned in the AFC wild card race, which is quite a turnaround given how bad both of these teams have looked at times this season. I think the Steelers made the right move going to Devlin Hodges, and they’ll pull out a win.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 20, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: The Steelers get a little revenge, without banging anyone over the head with their own helmet.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 13.

Packers at Giants

MDS’s take: The Packers looked terrible last week against the 49ers, but a visit to the Giants should be just what the doctor ordered.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Giants 17.

Florio’s take: Green Bay should go 4-1 down the stretch, which should be good enough to win the division but not good enough to secure a bye.

Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Giants 10.

Eagles at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Eagles looked terrible last week against the Seahawks, but a visit to the Dolphins should be just what the doctor ordered.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take: If the Eagles lose this one, they can forget about the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Dolphins 13.

Buccaneers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Jameis Winston is always a sure thing to throw a couple great passes and a couple terrible passes, and the key to the game is what he does on all his other plays. I think he’ll do enough to outscore a struggling Jaguars offense.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Jaguars 21.

Florio’s take: The Battle for Florida will definitely not result in any sort of trophy, but it could be an exciting game between teams currently moving in different directions.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 34, Buccaneers 31.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: The AFC South is still a three-team race, but the loser of this game is in a world of hurt. I think this is the game when Ryan Tannehill comes back to earth and the Colts win a low-scoring affair.

MDS’s pick: Colts 14, Titans 13.

Florio’s take: The loser of this one will have a hard time making it to January, and the Colts are too good to be in that position on Thanksgiving weekend.

Florio’s pick: Colts 21, Titans 20.

Jets at Bengals

MDS’s take: With Andy Dalton back under center, the Bengals earning their first win of the season wouldn’t shock me, but instead I think they’re going to fall just short.

MDS’s pick: Jets 21, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take: It may be too late for the Jets, especially with the Ravens looming in two weeks. But it’s fun to watch.

Florio’s pick: Jets 30, Bengals 17.

Washington at Panthers

MDS’s take: No two-game winning streak is on order for Washington, which has an offense that can barely move the ball.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Washington 9.

Florio’s take: Ron Rivera may not make if to Week 17 if he loses this one.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Washington 13.

49ers at Ravens

MDS’s take: An outstanding game between the Ravens’ historic offense and the 49ers’ stout defense. I like Lamar Jackson to make enough plays with his feet to win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, 49ers 20.

Florio’s take: Game of the year? Game of the year.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, 49ers 21.

Rams at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Rams are down to their last chance to turn this season around, and I think they’ll get the win they need in Arizona.

MDS’s pick: Rams 22, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: A get-right game for the Rams, even though things probably won’t stay that way.

Florio’s pick: Rams 31, Cardinals 27.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: Both of these teams are out of the AFC West race, but I think the Chargers will be a little more competitive down the stretch.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 17, Broncos 14.

Florio’s take: The Chargers have begun to emotionally detach from Philip Rivers, and it will affect them just enough to give the Broncos an opening to win.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 17.

Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: It’s not too late for the Raiders to make a push to win the AFC West, but it will be if they lose on Sunday, and that’s what I’m expecting them to do.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 30, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take: When Andy Reid has extra time to get ready, that’s very good for his team and bad for the other one.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Raiders 21.

Patriots at Texans

MDS’s take: Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore is leading one of the best pass defenses we’ve ever seen in the NFL, and Deshaun Watson is going to struggle against them.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Texans 13.

Florio’s take: The Patriots know they have no margin for error, not with the Ravens still hot on their heels. Meanwhile, Bill O’Brien has never beaten Bill Belichick.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 21, Texans 17.

Vikings at Seahawks

MDS’s take: This is a very important game to the NFC playoff race, and I think a hostile atmosphere in Seattle is going to be too much for the Vikings.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Vikings 17.

Florio’s take: That win over the Cowboys hardly means that the Vikings have exorcised their prime-time demons.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Vikings 20.

Week 13 power rankings


1. Ravens (9-2; last week No. 1): When asking whether they’re peaking too soon, it’s also fair to ask whether they haven’t peaked yet.

2. 49ers (10-1; No. 4): Sure, they face a tough schedule. The teams that will be facing them have it even tougher.

3. Seahawks (9-2; No. 2): The No. 1 seed or the No. 5 seed continues to hinge on Week 17 vs. the 49ers.

4. Patriots (10-1; No. 3): A Super Bowl berth hinges eventually on the ability to contain Lamar Jackson.

5. Saints (9-2; No. 5): If they’re going to be screwed by the pass interference replay process, it’s better that it happen now than later.

6. Vikings (8-3; No. 7): A win in Seattle, as unlikely as it would be, would propel the Vikings into the bye-week conversation.

7. Packers (8-3; No. 6): They should never play a game in California again.

8. Chiefs (7-4; No. 8): Andy Reid’s teams thrive after the bye; the real question is whether a win over the Raiders can be followed by a win over the Patriots.

9. Texans (7-4; No. 12): Two weeks after a potential signature win became a blowout loss, the Texans have another shot at a signature win.

10. Bills (8-3; No. 9): They’ll likely get to the playoffs; can they win once the playoffs start?

11. Steelers (6-5; No. 15): If someone from the Browns tries to hit Devlin Hodges over the head with his own helmet, hopefully he will quickly lower his head in an effort to avoid the blow.

12. Titans (6-5; No. 16): The most boring team in football is quickly becoming anything but.

13. Cowboys (6-5; No. 11): If they lose to Buffalo at home on Thanksgiving, Black Friday may have a much different meaning for Jason Garrett.

14. Raiders (6-5; No. 10): Playoffs or not, Derek Carr may not actually be living in that house he’s building in Las Vegas.

15. Colts (6-5; No. 14): They’ll be a dangerous playoff team if they make it; it’s still not clear whether they’ll make it.

16. Browns (5-6; No. 19): Maybe they’ll make it to the playoffs after all.

17. Rams (6-5; No. 13): Maybe they won’t make it to the playoffs after all.

18. Eagles (5-6; No. 17): Maybe they’ll regret signing Carson Wentz.

19. Panthers (5-6; No. 18): Maybe they’ll regret keeping Joey Slye.

20. Bears (5-6; No. 21): Maybe they’ll stop being asked why they didn’t take Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and instead be asked why they didn’t take Lamar Jackson in 2018.

21. Jets (4-7; No. 25): Maybe they’d be a contender if they didn’t have so many tough games in September and October.

22. Buccaneers (4-7; No. 27): Maybe Jameis Winston will do enough to get another year where the constant question will be whether he should get another year.

23. Chargers (4-7; No. 22): By beating Lamar Jackson in the 2018 playoffs, the Chargers finally have something they can hold over the Rams.

24. Jaguars (4-7; No. 20): The Super Bowl window has been slammed shut and boarded up.

25. Falcons (3-8; No. 23): It’ll take more than $2 hot dogs to get people to show up on Thanksgiving night.

26. Broncos (3-8; No. 24): When will they leave the starting job to the guy who looks like the star of Leave It To Beaver?

27. Lions (3-7-1; No. 26): It’s no surprise that a team with six decades of dysfunction wouldn’t realize the benefit of giving an effort to finally change things more than two years to take root.

28. Cardinals (3-7-1; No. 28): Patrick Mahomes in 2018, Lamar Jackson in 2019 . . . Kyler Murray in 2020?

29. Washington (2-9; No. 31): Far more surprising than Dwayne Haskins‘ decision to take a selfie with fans is that fans were actually there to take selfies with.

30. Dolphins (2-9; No. 29): They’re going to regret those two wins in April.

31. Giants (2-9; No. 30): The Giants could be the third NFC East team looking for a new coach in January.

32. Bengals (0-11; No. 32): They definitely wouldn’t be 0-11 if Marvin Lewis was still the coach.

AFC playoff picture: Big games on tap in Week 13

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The top of the AFC’s playoff picture has looked the same for some time now and there’s little reason to think the Patriots and Ravens won’t be able to remain in the top two spots.

What it will look like behind them is a bit less clear. Seven teams have five, six or seven wins to this point in the season and many of them will be playing each other in the coming weeks. That includes three games this weekend — Titans-Colts, Raiders-Chiefs and Browns-Steelers — that will have great impact on the eventual playoff competitors.

Those results will make the playoff picture clearer, but here’s how things stand after Week 12:

1. Patriots (10-1) Houston and Kansas City provide a pair of tough tests before things ease up in the final three weeks.

2. Ravens (9-2) If the 49ers can’t stop their offense, will anyone be able to shut them down this season?

3. Texans (7-4) They’re getting the Patriots at home this week while their closest divisional rivals face each other.

4. Chiefs (7-4) Got some help from the Jets against the Raiders and can all but finish the AFC West race this weekend.

5. Bills (8-3) The next four weeks are the toughest of the season for Buffalo, but they’ve put themselves in position to absorb a loss or two without fatally damaging their postseason bid.

6. Steelers (6-5) They benched their quarterback, but moved into playoff position ahead of a rematch with the Browns.

7. Raiders (6-5) Didn’t do themselves any favors in Week 12, but a win in Kansas City would brighten the outlook considerably for the Raiders.

8. Colts (6-5) A win this week would give them a sweep of the Titans that might be a factor if they need to break a tie come Week 17.

9. Titans (6-5) They have the Colts, Raiders and Texans over the next three weeks, which gives them a chance to make a big jump up the ladder.

10. Browns (5-6) A win over the Steelers this week would be four in a row and a shot in the arm for their Wild Card bid.

11. Jaguars (4-7) They’ve given up 699 rushing yards the last three weeks to run themselves out of playoff contention.

12. Chargers (4-7) Derwin James is set to return, but it looks like too little too late.

13. Jets (4-7) With the Bengals and Dolphins on deck, the three-game winning streak may be getting longer.

14. Broncos (3-8) A potential start for Drew Lock is about as intriguing as it gets in Denver these days.

15. Dolphins (2-9) They technically remain alive in the playoff race, but they probably won’t be there for long.

16. Bengals (0-11) Andy Dalton‘s back in the saddle with a two-game edge on competitors for the top pick in the draft.

NFC playoff picture: Creating separation as November ends

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With five weeks left in the regular season, five NFC teams should be feeling pretty comfortable about their chances of making the playoffs.

The 49ers, Saints, Packers, Seahawks and Vikings are all at least two games up on their closest competitors for playoff spots and, barring total collapse, it shouldn’t be long before some of those teams are clinching berths in the postseason. Where they’ll all stack up once the playoffs arrive remains in some doubt, however, and the final weeks will set the seeding for January.

The outlier to the separation of powers is in the NFC East, where the Eagles and Cowboys both remain alive for a division title.

Here’s how the entire conference shapes up after Week 12:

1. 49ers (10-1) Can their defense stop Lamar Jackson? If not, we could have a new No. 1 team in the NFC next week.

2. Saints (9-2) Survived the Panthers to essentially sew up the NFC South and they get their shot at the Niners in Week 14.

3. Packers (8-3) A second loss in three games keeps the Vikings right on top of them in the NFC North.

4. Cowboys (6-5) They fizzled in New England to keep hope alive for the Eagles.

5. Seahawks (9-2) Monday night’s game against the Vikings will be a big part of the seeding game.

6. Vikings (8-3) They should be well rested for Seattle after their Week 12 bye.

7. Rams (6-5) Eight turnovers in the last three games are one of the reasons why it’s hard to believe the Rams can right the ship in December.

8. Bears (5-6) The good news is that they got a win and have the Lions on deck. The bad news is the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings are their final four opponents.

9. Eagles (5-6) It’s been a rough year, but the schedule shows the Dolphins, Giants and Washington in the next three weeks so the division title probably isn’t running away from them.

10. Panthers (5-6) They may have lost even if Joey Slye made a 28-yard field goal, but it’s all the more painful that he did.

11. Buccaneers (4-7) Running the table would get them a winning season, but they haven’t won two straight games all year.

12. Lions (3-7-1) They’ll try to avoid a winless November against the Bears on Thanksgiving.

13. Cardinals (3-7-1) They can help spoil the season for the Rams this week.

14. Falcons (3-8) Atlanta reverted to form after a two-game winning streak.

15. Giants (2-9) Pat Shurmur is now 17-43 as an NFL head coach.

16. Washington (2-9) Selfies with Dwayne Haskins are all the rage these days.