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What Week 11 means for the 2020 NFL playoff picture [UPDATE]

The playoff race continues to heat up heading into the middle of November. We break down the implications of the Week 11 schedule.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson runs for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday results

In the NFC early slate, the Cowboys beat the Lions to improve 6-4 and await the 5-4 Eagles game with the Patriots. The Vikings stormed back from a 20-0 deficit to stun the Broncos 27-23. They improved to 8-3 and are half a game back of the Packers in the NFC North. The Saints crushed Tampa Bay 34-17 and with Carolina losing to Atlanta, New Orleans leads the NFC South by three games with six to go.

In the NFC late slate, the 49ers beat the Cardinals to improve to 9-1 and face the 8-2 Packers in Week 12 on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles lost to the Patriots to drop a game back of the Cowboys in the NFC East and the Rams beat the Bears to hang around the wild card race.

In the AFC, the Ravens crushed the Texans 41-7 to take command of the second first round bye. The Colts thumped the Jaguars 33-13 and are now tied with the Texans atop the AFC South. The Bills handled their business in Week 11 with a 37-20 win over Miami to maintain their lead on the top wild card spot.

In the AFC late slate, the Raiders improved to 6-4 with a win over the Bengals. The Raiders would move into first place in the AFC West if the Chiefs lost to the Chargers on Monday Night Football.


Welcome to NFL Week 11! We’ve got seven weeks of games remaining in the regular season schedule and the playoff race is picking up steam. The past two weeks have seen the No. 1 seed on each side lose and open the door for the rest of the conference. Add in upsets of Indianapolis and New Orleans, among others, and the playoff picture is going to get wild.

Nobody can clinch a playoff berth and nobody will be mathematically eliminated, but teams can get big wins or suffer big losses. One team that got a huge win was Cleveland on Thursday Night Football. It was an ugly game marred by a brawl in the closing seconds, but the Browns badly needed that win to stay in the playoff race to some extent.

Games of the Week

Texans @ Ravens: We get two division leaders battling for a first round bye and hanging behind the Patriots atop the AFC. This is a must-win for both teams if they want a chance at grabbing a first round bye.

Jaguars @ Colts: The AFC South is bunched up and both teams need a win to hang around behind Houston. It’s not an elimination game for either given how close things are in the wild card race, but it’s an important one.

“Elimination” games

The AFC wild card leaders are the 6-3 Bills and 5-4 Raiders, which means the race is pretty wide open. In the NFC, the 8-2 Seattle Seahawks and 7-3 Minnesota Vikings top the wild card, which means the door could slam shut a little sooner for some teams.

This week, Sunday Night Football is the elimination game. The 4-5 Bears travel to face the 5-4 Rams, and while neither would be mathematically eliminated from the playoff race with a loss, they would drop into a rough spot and be unlikely to rebound. They happen to be in the divisions of the top four records in the conference. Not exactly ideal in a playoff push.

Below is a rundown of the NFL playoff picture and who the top six seeds in each of the conferences face. It’s followed by some of the notable matchups between playoff contenders.

AFC playoff picture.

1. New England Patriots: 8-1 — @ Eagles
2. Baltimore Ravens: 7-2 — vs. Texans
3. Houston Texans: 6-3 — @ Ravens
4. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4 — @ Chargers
5. Buffalo Bills: 6-3 — @ Dolphins
6. Oakland Raiders: 5-4 — vs. Bengals

In the hunt: Indianapolis Colts (5-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5), Tennessee Titans (5-5), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5), Cleveland Browns (4-6), Los Angeles Chargers (4-6), Denver Broncos (3-6)

Jaguars (4-5) @ Colts (5-4)
Broncos (3-6) @ Vikings (7-3)
Texans (6-3) @ Ravens (7-2)
Patriots (8-1) @ Eagles (5-4)
Chiefs (6-4) @ Chargers (4-6)

NFC playoff picture

1. San Francisco 49ers: 8-1 — vs. Cardinals
2. Green Bay Packers: 8-2 — BYE
3. New Orleans Saints: 7-2 — @ Buccaneers
4. Dallas Cowboys: 5-4 — @ Lions
5. Seattle Seahawks: 8-2 — BYE
6. Minnesota Vikings: 7-3 — vs. Broncos

In the hunt: Los Angeles Rams (5-4), Philadelphia Eagles (5-4), Carolina Panthers (5-4), Chicago Bears (4-5), Detroit Lions (3-5-1), Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1)

49ers (8-1) @ Cardinals (3-6-1)
Cowboys (5-4) @ Lions (3-5-1)
Broncos (3-6) @ Vikings (7-3)
Patriots (8-1) @ Eagles (5-4)
Bears (4-5) @ Rams (5-4)