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Paving out the playoff picture after week 12


Editor’s note:  This is the third of a three-part series on the NFL standings. 

The National Football League season consists of 18 weeks of tough football, upsets and intense games. We are officially two thirds of the way through the season and the playoff picture is starting to become clearer with each passing day. Let us discuss who is shaping up to make waves this postseason. 

Sitting at No. 1 in the American Football Conference (AFC) are the Kansas City Chiefs at 9-2. It should be no surprise that the Chiefs are playoff contenders yet again with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce putting up record breaking numbers. While the Chiefs have a powerhouse offense, their defense can struggle at times and it leaves fans to wonder what will happen once playoffs come. 

Sitting at no. 2 are the Miami Dolphins at 8-3. The Dolphins faced some struggles early in the season due to injuries, but they have gotten back into their groove as of late and are on a five-game winning streak. Since acquiring Head Coach Mike McDaniels, the Dolphins have found a spark they lacked in recent years.

Sitting at No. 3 are the Tennessee Titans at 7-4. The Titans are back in action after starting the season 0-2. Since then, they have won seven of their last nine games. Running back Derrick Henry continues to be a threat to defenses across the league and quarterback Ryan Tannehill is starting to build chemistry with his receivers.  

Sitting at No. 4 are the Baltimore Ravens at 7-4. While they are a solid team to watch out for with players like Lamar Jackson and Justin Tucker.

It is a tight division race as the Bengals are currently second in the division at 7-4, so the playoff picture might shift as the season wraps up. 

Sitting at No. 5 are the Buffalo Bills at 8-3. They are currently taking up one of the wild card spots. However, they maintain the same record as the Dolphins so things could possibly shift as the season wraps up. Sitting at No. 6 are the Cincinnati Bengals at 7-4, who are finding the rhythm they had last year as they made a Super Bowl run, however, injuries are proving to be a problem for them. Lastly, at No. 7 are the New York Jets at 7-4. The Jets’ success is a shock to most, but they are playing well week in and week out. This has allowed them to win games and beat some of the best teams currently playing. 

Teams that are looking into securing a last minute Wild Card spot in the AFC are the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers at 6-5. Both teams have lost some close games, which resulted in them falling down the list.

The National Football Conference (NFC) is full of tough teams who are finding a rhythm in the second half of the season, leading fans to wonder which of these teams can stay healthy and powerful enough to make a Super Bowl run. 

Sitting at No. 1 in the NFC are the Philadelphia Eagles at 10-1. The Eagles have been a dominant team all season as quarterback Jalen Hurts has found a rhythm with his receivers and running backs and is putting up record breaking numbers, while also having a solid defense that is forcing takeaways and making key plays in crucial moments throughout the season. 

Sitting in the No. 2 seed are the Minnesota Vikings at 9-2. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson have established a real connection this season and it has allowed them to find success. They have a massive lead in their division as the team in second, the Detroit Lions, are currently sitting at 4-7. Due to how poorly the rest of their division is performing, they are basically guaranteed a playoff spot, the only thing that can change is their seeding. However, after a brutal 40-3 loss to the Cowboys in week 11, many are wondering if there are holes to be discovered in this “stellar” team. 

Sitting in the No. 3 seed are the San Francisco 49ers at 7-4. The 49ers are one of the hottest teams in the NFC right now as they found their rhythm both offensively and defensively in the last four games, all leading to victories. Since acquiring running back Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers have gotten a real rhythm going on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has allowed zero points in the second half for the past four games, something that only seven other teams have done since the merger. 

Sitting in the No. 4 seed are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 5-6. While they are currently the division leader, it is still a tight division race as the Atlanta Falcons are sitting at 5-7. The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers also have the division title in reach sitting at 4-8. 

Sitting in the No. 5 seed are the Dallas Cowboys at 8-3. The Cowboys seem to have found their rhythm again after the return of quarterback Dak Prescott, however their division is a tight one as the New York Giants sit in the No. 6 seed at 7-4 and the Washington Commanders sit in the No. 7 seed at 7-5. It is a tough division, which is obvious with the way the entire division is currently in playoffs. 

Teams that are looking into securing a last minute Wild Card spot in the NFC are the Seattle Seahawks at 6-5 and the Atlanta Falcons.  

I am going to stick with my initial preseason prediction for Super Bowl LVII and say it will be between the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers facing off in Glendale, Arizona.

Emily Autumn Velasquez is the editor-in-chief and may be reached at [email protected]; @byemilyautumn on Instagram; @emilyautumn20 on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Emily Autumn Velasquez
Emily Autumn Velasquez, Editor-in-chief
Emily Autumn Velasquez is the Editor in Chief for the Prospector. She is a senior, majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in rhetoric writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is also a freelance photographer/videographer with hopes of continuing a career in sports journalism when she graduates in December.
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Paving out the playoff picture after week 12