NFL standings: Updated AFC, NFC playoff picture for Week 12 of 2023 season

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The NFL playoff race is heating up as the weather gets colder and the calendar creeps toward December, the penultimate month of the 2023 regular season. With only seven weeks of games left through Week 18, 14 teams are looking to position themselves well as either division leaders or wild-card hopefuls.

Although there are some dominant teams headed to a return to the playoffs, much is in flux with seeding and potential entrants.

Here's a look at the updated NFL playoff picture during a full slate of games in Week 12:

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NFL standings for Week 12

AFC playoff picture

1. Miami Dolphins (8-3), first place, AFC East. The Dolphins jumped up here with their Week 12 win over the Jets on "Black Friday", waiting to see what the Ravens, Chiefs and Jaguars do on Sunday. With the victory, they have opened up a two-game lead on the Bills, who must play at the Eagles on Sunday.

2. Baltimore Ravens (8-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens ldd the race for home-field advantage and the lone conference playoff bye by a half-game after their Week 11 opening win over the Bengals and the Chiefs' Week 11 closing loss to the Eagles. They will get their regular-season bye after facing the Chargers on Sunday night, needing a win to get back ahead of the Dolphins.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs dropped here with their loss to the Eagles and so they will try to get right back on track with road wins over the Raiders and Packers in consecutive weeks. The key is getting Patrick Mahomes and the offense to do a little more with fewer mistakes.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3), first place, AFC South. The Jaguars arte up by a full game on the Texans after beating the Titans but they travel to Houston on Sunday for a massive matchup. The tiebreaker is at stake, given they lost badly to the Texans at home in Week 3.

5. Cleveland Browns (7-3), second place, AFC North. The Browns are a half-game short of the Ravens and face a tough matchup against the Broncos on the road without Deshaun Watson again in Week 12. That's huge for their wild-card chance and trying to keep pace with the Ravens.

6. Houston Texans (6-4), second place, AFC South. The Texans will look to take over first place in the South over the Jaguars for beating them a second time this season in Houston. They are looking good for at least a surprise wild-card berth with C.J. Stroud.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4), third place, AFC North. The Steelers are now clinging to this spot by a half-game after losing to the Browns in Week 11, also losing ground to the Ravens in the process. They hope firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada will provide a much-needed closing spark down the stretch.

Who's in the hunt?

8. Buffalo Bills (6-5)

9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

10. Denver Broncos (5-5)

11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)

12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-6)

13. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)

14. New York Jets (4-7)

15. Tennessee Titans (3-7)

The Bills and Broncos are alive and well in this race given the state of the Browns and Steelers. The Bengals are bound to fade without Joe Burrow. The Chargers and Jets are the most disappointing with their coaching and replacement QB play, respectively.

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NFC playoff picture

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1), first place, NFC East. The Eagles got a huge win over the Chiefs to close Week 11 on the road ahead of another tough matchup at home vs. the Bills. They also host the 49ers in Week 13.

3. San Francisco 49ers (8-3), first place, NFC West. The 49ers opened up a two-game division lead by routing the Seahawks on Thanksgiving night in Week 12. They also jumped the losing Lions because of having a superior conference record. They have a huge shot to move up more when playing the Eagles in Week 13.

3. Detroit Lions (8-3), first place, NFC North. The Lions kept up their losing tradition on Thanksgiving by getting upset by the Packers at home. That opened the door for the Eagles, 49ers and Vikings to make up some ground.

4. New Orleans Saints (5-5), first place, NFC South. The Saints have a precarious lead in the NFL's weakest division ahead of the Buccaneers and Falcons. They will look to build on their one-game lead in Atlanta.

5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3), second place, NFC East. The Cowboys still have ground to make up on the Eagles after losing them in Philadelphia. They will get that opportunity in Week 14 at home after routing the Commanders at home in Week 12 and hosting the Seahawks for another Thursday game in Week 13.

6. Minnesota Vikings (6-5), second place, NFC North. The Vikings also are trying to cling to playoff hopes with Josh Dobbs. They will get a big chance to rebound from the loss in Denver with the Bears at home on Monday night.

7. Seattle Seahawks (6-5), second place, NFC West. The Seahawks dropped another division game to the 49ers in Week 12 and fell behind the Vikings with a worse conference record. The Packers, who won earlier on Thanksgiving, gained a big game right behind them.

Who's in the hunt?

8. Green Bay Packers (5-6)

9. Los Angeles Rams (4-6)

10. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)

12. Washington Commanders (4-8)

13. Chicago Bears (3-8)

The Packers started off Week 12 with a big win over the Lions. Looking at this group, there are definitely a few openings for the last two wild-card spots behind the Cowboys. But the best bets to make the playoffs remain either the Falcons or Buccaneers usurping the Saints to steal the South.

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Vinnie Iyer is an NFL writer at The Sporting News