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The Sports Daily
Breaking down the NFL playoff picture heading into Week 13

Only five weeks remain in the 2016 NFL regular season, and with over 20 teams still fighting for 12 playoff spots, every game each week is important in deciding how the playoff field will shake out.

Here’s a closer look at the playoff picture entering Week 13.

AFC

1. New England Patriots (9-2)

2. Oakland Raiders (9-2)

3. Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

4. Houston Texans (6-5)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)

6. Miami Dolphins (7-4)

Other contenders: Denver Broncos (7-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5), Buffalo Bills (6-5), Tennessee Titans (6-6), Indianapolis Colts (5-6), San Diego Chargers (5-6)

Biggest games in Week 13:

Chiefs at Falcons

The Chiefs traveling to Atlanta to play the Falcons might be the best game of the week. Kansas City is coming off a huge overtime win in Denver, while the Falcons are still battling to hold onto the NFC South lead. Both teams need the win for playoff positioning.

Dolphins at Ravens

Two teams that have surged into playoff spots will clash in Baltimore. Winners of six straight, the Dolphins have now taken hold of the sixth seed in the AFC. The Ravens have won three of four to grab the lead in the AFC South. The team that continues its winning ways on Sunday will be one step closer to the postseason.

Bills at Raiders

The Bills have won two straight games after a tough stretch in late October and early November. At 6-5, Rex Ryan’s team is still hanging around. Every game from here on out is precious for the Raiders, who are trying to win the highly competitive AFC West and secure a first-round bye in the postseason.

Giants at Steelers

The Giants are quietly 8-3, but they still have plenty of doubters. A road win in Pittsburgh would certainly legitimize their status as contenders. The Steelers, who would miss the playoffs if the season ended today, need to secure as many wins as possible over the final five games.

Colts at Jets

A Texans’ loss to the Packers and a Colts’ win over the Jets would even up the AFC South at 6-6. Houston and Indianapolis play in Week 14. The next two weeks will go a long way in deciding the up-for-grabs division.

NFC 

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1)

2. Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)

3. Detroit Lions (7-4)

4. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

5. New York Giants (8-3)

6. Washington Redskins (6-4-1)

Other contenders: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5), Minnesota Vikings (6-5), New Orleans Saints (5-6), Green Bay Packers (5-6), Philadelphia Eagles (5-6), Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1), Carolina Panthers (4-7), Los Angeles Rams (4-7)

Biggest games in Week 13:

Cowboys at Vikings

The Cowboys can become the first team to clinch a playoff spot by beating the Vikings and getting either a Buccaneers or Redskins loss. Now 1-5 over the last six games, Minnesota desperately needs a win to keep pace in the NFC North.

Texans at Packers 

The Texans and their shrinking lead in the AFC South must travel to Green Bay to play the Packers, who suddenly look alive and well after handling the Eagles on Monday night. The margin of error isn’t big for either team with five games left.

Lions at Saints

The Lions suddenly have a decent lead in the NFC North, but the road ahead—including Sunday’s trip to New Orleans—is a very difficult one. The Saints need to start stringing some wins together if they want to get back to challenging for the division title or a wild-card berth.

Redskins at Cardinals

Sunday’s trip to Arizona marks the second game of Washington’s three-game road trip. The Redskins already lost the first in Dallas on Thanksgiving, so Jay Gruden’s team can’t allow this three-game stretch to ruin a promising season. The Cardinals, on the other hand, need to win out to have any chance at the postseason.

Buccaneers at Chargers

Look out for the Bucs, who have beat the Chiefs and Seahawks in back-to-back weeks. Tampa Bay now needs to avoid a big let down in San Diego, where the Chargers are desperately trying to keep their season alive.

Panthers at Seahawks 

This playoff rematch from January looks a lot different almost a year later. The Panthers are pretty much done at 4-7, while the Seahawks are looking to bounce back after an upset loss in Tampa Bay last Sunday.