Vikings sink in NFC after losing to Bears


Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 12 of the 2023 season complete:

NFC playoff picture

1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1), NFC East leaders: They own the best record in the league, matching their 10-1 start in 2022 by winning a thrilling overtime shootout against the Buffalo Bills. Detroit’s loss on Thanksgiving gave Philly a two-game lead on its three closest pursuers. If the Eagles win Week 13’s highly anticipated NFC title game rematch with San Francisco, they’re going to become very difficult to dislodge from their perch. Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers, at Cowboys, at Seahawks, vs. Giants, vs. Cardinals, at Giants

2. San Francisco 49ers (8-3), NFC West leaders: They put a chokehold on the division by beating Seattle on Thanksgiving night. The Niners’ superior record in NFC games also vaulted them over the Lions. But if they want to really make a push for home-field advantage, a win at Philadelphia is pretty much imperative. Remaining schedule: at Eagles, vs. Seahawks, at Cardinals, vs. Ravens, at Commanders, vs. Rams

3. Detroit Lions (8-3), NFC North leaders: Starting to show some cracks, especially on defense, but they still have some margin for error in their quest for first NFC North title. Remaining schedule: at Saints, at Bears, vs. Broncos, at Vikings, at Cowboys, vs. Vikings

4. Atlanta Falcons (5-6), NFC South leaders: They notched a big win Sunday in their first meeting this season with the Saints and moved to 3-0 in divisional games – potential a huge tiebreaker down the road. Hard to expect too much from the Falcons, but a .500 finish over their final six games – which seems quite reasonable – could be enough to clinch this seed. Remaining schedule: at Jets, vs. Buccaneers, at Panthers, vs. Colts, at Bears, at Saints

5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3), wild card No. 1: By crushing Washington on Turkey Day, they solidified their hold on this position – which will likely afford a matchup with a not-so-daunting NFC South champ in the wild-card round. Yet still time for Dallas to make the NFC East a legit race … assuming they can salvage a split with Philly and get help along the way. Remaining schedule: vs. Seahawks, vs. Eagles, at Bills, at Dolphins, vs. Lions, at Commanders

6. Seattle Seahawks (6-5), wild card No. 2: Consecutive losses to NFC West foes, including Thursday night’s 31-13 home setback to San Francisco, has pushed them nearer the postseason brink – especially given the upcoming schedule. Minnesota’s Monday night loss helped, moving the ‘Hawks up to the sixth seed, but they’re still only one game ahead of the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, all 5-6. And don’t forget, the Rams have a Seattle sweep in hand. Remaining schedule: at Cowboys, at 49ers, vs. Eagles, at Titans, vs. Steelers, at Cardinals

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-6), wild card No. 3: Tough loss to Chicago, though Vikes could still make a run at the NFC North given both dates with Detroit are ahead. But Minnesota needs to regroup during its bye and figure out a way to hold off that triad of clubs just a half-game back. Remaining schedule: BYE, at Raiders, at Bengals, vs. Lions, vs. Packers, at Lions

AFC playoff picture

1. Baltimore Ravens (9-3), AFC North leaders: After quite a bit of churn, they wound up where they started the week – in first place overall. They won’t mind getting Week 13 off to rest up for the stretch drive, but it is likely to cost them in the standings – their trio of AFC losses more than the Chiefs, Jaguars or Dolphins. Remaining schedule: BYE, vs. Rams, at Jaguars, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Steelers

2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3), AFC West leaders: They continue to be well positioned to play a sixth consecutive AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium. None of the teams left on K.C.’s schedule currently has a winning record. Furthermore, wins over Jacksonville and Miami earlier this season give K.C. a valuable tiebreaker should those clubs wind up deadlocked. Remaining schedule: at Packers, vs. Bills, at Patriots, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, at Chargers

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3), AFC South leaders: They earned an important split with Houston on Sunday and also opened up some breathing room atop the division. The strength-of-victory tiebreaker puts the Jags ahead of Miami if a tiebreaker must be invoked. Remaining schedule: vs. Bengals, at Browns, vs. Ravens, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Titans

4. Miami Dolphins (8-3), AFC East leaders: They continue to feast on average-at-best opponents, suggesting they’ll be 11-3 come Christmas Eve. Their victory in the NFL’s first Black Friday game temporarily moved them to the top of the conference standings, but they ceded all of that ground back on an idle Sunday. Remaining schedule: at Commanders, vs. Titans, vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens, vs. Bills

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4), wild card No. 1: Losses by the Browns, who have a worse division record than Pittsburgh, and Texans move the Steelers up two spots on a day when their newly led offense showed signs of life. They’re only a game ahead of Indianapolis, Houston and Denver, but no reason Pittsburgh shouldn’t cruise to 9-4. Remaining schedule: vs. Cardinals, vs. Patriots, at Colts, vs. Bengals, at Seahawks, at Ravens

6. Cleveland Browns (7-4), wild card No. 2: A damaging loss at Denver not only cost them positioning but could put the playing status of several key players DE Myles Garrett, WR Amari Cooper and QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson in jeopardy going into a touch matchup in Los Angeles. Remaining schedule: at Rams, vs. Jaguars, vs. Bears, at Texans, vs. Jets, at Bengals

7. Indianapolis Colts (6-5), wild card No. 3: A Week 2 win at Houston and a better record in conference games than Denver moves Indy ahead of the Texans and Broncos, who are both also 6-5. The Bills also still lurk a half-game back in 10th place. Remaining schedule: at Titans, at Bengals, vs. Steelers, at Falcons, vs. Raiders, vs. Texans


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on X, formerly Twitter @ByNateDavis.


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