NFL playoff picture: Browns, Cowboys both rise after Week 11


Here’s how the NFL playoff picture looks with Week 11 of the 2023 season nearly complete:

AFC playoff picture

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2), AFC West leaders: Coming out of their bye week awaits a Super Bowl 57 rematch with Philadelphia. Get that win, and K.C. looks well positioned to lay the groundwork for a sixth consecutive AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium. Remaining schedule: vs. Eagles, at Raiders, at Packers, vs. Bills, at Patriots, vs. Raiders, vs. Bengals, at Chargers

2. Baltimore Ravens (8-3), AFC North leaders: They survived a physical game with Cincinnati on Thursday night to cement their hold on the division. Two games against LA’s teams seem like the easiest left on the Ravens’ docket … and, not that easy. But a Kansas City loss Monday night to the Eagles will move the Ravens atop the overall conference standings. Remaining schedule: at Chargers, BYE, vs. Rams, at Jaguars, at 49ers, vs. Dolphins, vs. Steelers

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3), AFC South leaders: They got right Sunday with a 34-14 victory over AFC South rival Tennessee. The strength-of-victory tiebreaker keeps the Jags ahead of Miami. Massive trip to Houston in Week 12. Remaining schedule: at Texans, vs. Bengals, at Browns, vs. Ravens, at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Titans

4. Miami Dolphins (7-3), AFC East leaders: They continue to feast on average-at-best opponents, suggesting they’ll be 11-3 come Christmas Eve. Remaining schedule: at Jets, at Commanders, vs. Titans, vs. Jets, vs. Cowboys, at Ravens, vs. Bills

5. Cleveland Browns (7-3), wild card No. 1: No Deshaun Watson? No problem. They began the post-DW portion of their season by notching what could be a pivotal win over Pittsburgh. And as good as this defense is, reaching postseason seems like a realistic goal for rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson … or former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Remaining schedule: at Broncos, at Rams, vs. Jaguars, vs. Bears, at Texans, vs. Jets, at Bengals

6. Houston Texans (6-4), wild card No. 2: The mounting issues in the AFC North seem to bode well for them. However finishing a season sweep of Jacksonville would move the Texans into first place and give them a huge tiebreaker. Remaining schedule: vs. Jaguars, vs. Broncos, at Jets, at Titans, vs. Browns, vs. Titans, at Colts

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4), wild card No. 3: The only team in the AFC North that hasn’t suffered a crucial injury in the past week, Pittsburgh’s offense remains on injured reserve after another woeful showing in Cleveland dropped the Steelers into the final wild-card slot due to their Week 4 loss at Houston. The Buffalo Bills (6-5) lurk a half-game back. Remaining schedule: at Bengals, vs. Cardinals, vs. Patriots, at Colts, vs. Bengals, at Seahawks, at Ravens

NFC playoff picture

1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), NFC East leaders: They own the best record in the league … for now. But a foreboding five-week gauntlet initiates in Week 11 at Arrowhead. Remaining schedule: at Chiefs, vs. Bills, vs. 49ers, at Cowboys, at Seahawks, vs. Giants, vs. Cardinals, at Giants

2. Detroit Lions (8-2), NFC North leaders: They survived a game Chicago squad Sunday and host another division rival (Green Bay) on Thanksgiving. Philadelphia’s perfect record in NFC games assures the Eagles will remain atop the NFC standings regardless of what happens Monday night. Remaining schedule: vs. Packers, at Saints, at Bears, vs. Broncos, at Vikings, at Cowboys, vs. Vikings

3. San Francisco 49ers (7-3), NFC West leaders: Two games against Seattle over the next three weeks will provide the Niners an opportunity to effectively lock up the division. Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, at Eagles, vs. Seahawks, at Cardinals, vs. Ravens, at Commanders, vs. Rams

4. New Orleans Saints (5-5), NFC South leaders: Well-timed bye for battered QB Derek Carr and Co., especially since Tampa Bay lost Sunday to give New Orleans a full one-game lead over the Bucs and Atlanta. Remaining schedule: at Falcons, vs. Lions, vs. Panthers, vs. Giants, at Rams, at Buccaneers, vs. Falcons

5. Dallas Cowboys (7-3), wild card No. 1: Seattle’s loss helped them climb into a spot that will likely afford a matchup with a not-so-daunting NFC South champ in the wild-card round. Yet still plenty of time for Dallas to make the NFC East a legit race. Remaining schedule: vs. Commanders, vs. Seahawks, vs. Eagles, at Bills, at Dolphins, vs. Lions, at Commanders

6. Seattle Seahawks (6-4), wild card No. 2: Getting swept by the Rams is a definite setback … but the ‘Hawks still have a two-game lead on a pack of NFC playoff wannabes and some breathing room created by Minnesota’s late falter Sunday night. Still, rough four-game stretch could jeopardize their outlook and assist pursuers. Remaining schedule: vs. 49ers, at Cowboys, at 49ers, vs. Eagles, at Titans, vs. Steelers, at Cardinals

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-5), wild card No. 3: An interconference loss isn’t all that damaging, particularly since the Vikes still have two cracks at Detroit if they hope to retain their NFC North throne. But the last-second defeat to Denver moves Minnesota back down to the final conference playoff position – one that still affords a 1½-game advantage over Green Bay, the LA Rams, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Remaining schedule: at Broncos, vs. Bears, BYE, at Raiders, at Bengals, vs. Lions, vs. Packers, at Lions


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on X, formerly Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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