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NFL playoff picture 2021: Standings, bracket after Thanksgiving games, plus Week 12 outlook

Welcome to a special Thanksgiving Day edition of our NFL playoff picture. If you kept only one eye on the games, or even if you watched them closely, we have a lot to discuss. The outcomes of two matchups shook up the playoff standings in both conferences. Among the takeaways: The Buffalo Bills regained supremacy in the AFC East, at least temporarily. The Bills, of course, could be back among the wild-card contenders if the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

The Bills’ win over the New Orleans Saints elevated the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re currently No. 7 in the NFC standings, while the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss has them looking up at the NFC field.

The Las Vegas Raiders ‘ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them back in contention to move into the AFC wild-card race should a current contender falter.

The Cowboys’ lead in the NFC East isn’t yet threatened, but the surging Philadelphia Eagles can no longer be discounted in the division race.

We’ve updated those situations and more below. Look for another update after Sunday’s games as Week 12 continues.

Jump to: AFC | NFC AFC

1. Tennessee Titans (8-3)

No team has exemplified this unpredictable season better than the Titans, who won seven of their first nine games despite facing the NFL’s most difficult schedule over that stretch. They then embarked on a much easier schedule, only to suffer a stunning home loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to continue closing the gap in the AFC South, shrinking the Titans’ lead to two games with six to play. (Tennessee won both head-to-head matchups with Indianapolis.) Regardless of whether the Colts can catch them, it’s difficult to view the Titans as the clear-cut AFC favorite when two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets — who have a combined record of 4-16. And now the Patriots, arguably the hottest team in the league, await them on Sunday.

Next up: at Patriots 2. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

Even without quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens managed to maintain their hold on first place in the AFC North. They haven’t been pretty for a while, having lost to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an overtime win over the Vikings over the past month. But maybe that’s just how it’s going to be for them.

Next up: vs. Browns 3. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

Will a convincing win Thursday in the Superdome be enough to pull the Bills out of a midseason spiral? They entered Week 12 having lost two of their past three games, including an inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-point loss to the Colts. The Bills better hope they’ve figured things out, because they’re about to head into a brutal stretch of their schedule. They will play the red-hot Patriots twice in four weeks, […]

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