NFL Playoff Picture: What Postseason Matchups Look Like After MNF Thriller


As we get ready for Week 12 in the NFL and dive into the holiday season, we have reached the final week of byes.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams will get some hard-earned rest and relaxation after their Monday night thriller in Tinseltown, a game that had no shortage of playoff repercussions.

With this somewhat natural breaking point, it seemed like a good enough time to start looking ahead to potential playoff matchups based on where the standings currently sit.

Here’s what we’d be looking at in terms of those matchups if the NFL, for some reason, decided to start the playoffs today.


First-round byes
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)

Wild-card round matchups
No. 3 New England Patriots (7-3) vs. No. 6 Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
No. 4 Houston Texans (7-3) vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)

Notes: Outside of the Rams themselves, perhaps no one benefited more from Los Angeles’ Monday night win than the Patriots, who very much still have a path to a first-round bye. New England owns a head-to-head tiebreaker against Kansas City, and the Patriots also get a chance to do the same against Pittsburgh in Week 15. … After the Steelers, the AFC North is a toss-up, with Cincinnati and Baltimore both at 5-5. In fact, those two are part of a five-team group with that record, which also includes Miami, Indianapolis and Tennessee.


First-round byes
1. Los Angeles Rams (10-1)
2. New Orleans Saints (9-1)

Wild-card round matchups
No 3. Chicago Bears (7-3) vs. No. 6 Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)
No. 4 Washington Redskins (6-4) vs. No. 5 Carolina Panthers (6-4)

Notes: The NFC playoff race is going to be bananas. Take a team like the Packers. If Green Bay can beat Minnesota on Sunday night, it’s essentially in a position where it can win out or even lose once down the stretch and still have a solid chance at a berth — despite currently being the No. 9 seed. … The Carolina-Washington matchup looked much more feasible a week ago before the Panthers lost to Detroit and Alex Smith broke his leg; now it would be surprising if that matchup holds. … The Rams technically have the top seed for now, but that’s only because they have more wins than New Orleans, who beat the Rams a few weeks ago.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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