NFL playoff picture after Week 13 2020: Vikings in, Cardinals out

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Check out some early NFL headlines from week 13.

USA TODAY

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks after Week 13’s Sunday games. (Note: the postseason field expands to 14 teams this season and could potentially go to 16 if the league’s schedule is thrown into disarray down the stretch by COVID-19 disruptions.)

NFC

x-1. New Orleans Saints (10-2), NFC South leaders: Their sweep of Atlanta combined with the Bears’ latest loss made New Orleans the first team to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl tournament this year. The Saints haven’t missed postseason since 2016 and are on track for their fourth consecutive division crown and second No. 1 seed in the past three years. Also, starting QB Drew Brees should be back very soon – perhaps even against Eagles in Week 14.

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3), NFC North leaders: They clinched a share of first place Sunday but don’t quite have a berth officially cemented. One more win – at Detroit next Sunday? – or Vikings loss will but a bow on Pack’s seventh division crown in past decade.

3. Los Angeles Rams (8-4), NFC West leaders: Win in desert Sunday combined with Week 10 defeat of Seahawks restores L.A. to divisional crest. However Rams may be catching ascending Patriots at wrong time.

4. New York Giants (5-7), NFC East leaders: Surprise upset at Seattle puts them on a four-game win streak and guarantees them at least another week atop the worst division in the league.

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4), wild card No. 1: Good luck finding anyone who thought they’d fall at home to the Colt McCoy-led G-Men, a loss that knocked ‘Hawks out of the NFC West lead. Next week’s visit from New York’s other team should prove more beneficial.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5), wild card No. 2:  They return from their bye next Sunday to open a stretch drive against four opponents all scuffling at .500 or worse – though Week 14’s date with the surging Vikes won’t be easy.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-6), wild card No. 3: Now 5-1 since their bye week, they’ve overtaken Arizona for the final berth – for now – by virtue of a slightly better record in common games played with the Cardinals. They’ll see Bucs and Saints over next three weeks.

8. Arizona Cardinals (6-6), first team out of field: Meanwhile, they’re 1-4 since their bye week, their latest loss to the Rams pushing Cards outside the playoff field. Chance to rebound given their next two dates (at Giants, vs. Eagles) are with NFC East opposition. 

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Brailford (67) celebrates a safety during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY Sports)

AFC

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0), AFC North leaders: They’ll try to extend their unbeaten season and quest for home-field advantage Monday afternoon against Washington.

x-2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1), AFC West leaders: Didn’t look all that impressive while outlasting Denver on Sunday night but triumph permits champs to be first AFC squad to punch playoff ticket. However they can’t improve their seeding this week with Steelers facing non-conference Football Team.

3. Buffalo Bills (8-3), AFC East leaders: Tennessee’s loss elevates them one spot but a tough date with the 49ers on Monday night awaits. A loss would drop Buffalo back to the No. 4 slot.

4. Tennessee Titans (8-4), AFC South leaders: Bad loss to the Browns on Sunday, but the Titans retain their division lead because they’ve got a better record in AFC South games (3-1) than the Colts (2-2), who are also 8-4 overall. Tennessee should get right with Jags and Lions next on the schedule.

5. Cleveland Browns (9-3), wild card No. 1:Massive win in Nashville moves them closer to ending a league-worst playoff drought dating back to 2002. The Browns host the Ravens in Week 14 before back-to-back games in New York, er, New Jersey.

6. Miami Dolphins (8-4), wild card No. 2: They’ll take an ugly win over Cincinnati and the conference record (5-3) that keeps them ahead of Indy (4-4) – especially with Chiefs and Patriots headed to South Florida in next two weeks.

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-4), wild card No. 3: Survived in Houston on Sunday and continue clinging to the AFC’s final playoff rung with games against Raiders and Steelers upcoming.

8. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5), first team out of field: They don’t look like a team ready to compete in January even after a last-minute escape against the winless Jets. But big opportunities ahead with Colts and Dolphins both visiting Sin City over the next three weeks.

x — clinched berth

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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