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What Week 7 means for the 2021 NFL playoff picture

With October winding down, a number of this week’s games have playoff implications attached to them, headlined by an AFC North showdown between the Bengals and Ravens.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

We’re approaching the halfway point of the 2021 NFL season, and with six weeks of play under our belt, it’s time to start thinking about the playoff picture. For some preseason favorites, like the Chiefs, things are already starting to get desperate, and they can’t afford to lose too many more. For other teams, like the Cardinals or the Ravens, this week is a chance to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference.

Let’s start with a game that has pretty heavy implications, the Cincinnati Bengals at the Baltimore Ravens. Cincy’s a bit of a surprise, and a win this week would give them the lead in the AFC North. These teams won’t see each other again until Week 16. A win for the Ravens would give them a big lead in the division that would make it hard for the rest to surmount.

The Chiefs really a need a win over the Tennessee Titans this week. That would help push them into the mix for a wild card spot, and keep them alive in the chase for another AFC West title. The Raiders, who lead the Chiefs in the division, are favored over the Eagles this week.

Over the in the NFC, the Cardinals should stay undefeated with a game against the Texans. That would put them at 7-0 and still in command of the conference. The Rams should be able to stay within striking distance of the Cardinals in the NFC West with a favorable matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Panthers could keep their wild card hopes alive with a win over a banged up Giants team, especially with the Vikings on a bye this week. The most consequential game in the NFC this week is the Bears at the Buccaneers. A loss for Chicago puts the wild card further out of reach, and a win for the Bucs would make their lead in the NFC South almost insurmountable.

AFC

1. Baltimore Ravens, 5-1
2. Los Angeles Chargers, 4-2

3. Tennessee Titans, 4-2
4. Buffalo Bills, 4-2
5. Cincinnati Bengals, 4-2
6. Las Vegas Raiders, 4-2
7. Cleveland Browns 4-3

Outside looking in: Kansas City Chiefs (3-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3), Denver Broncos (3-4)

Week 7 schedule

Chiefs (3-3) @ Titans (4-2)
Bengals (4-2) @ Ravens (5-1)
Eagles (2-4) @ Raiders (4-2)

NFC

1. Arizona Cardinals, 6-0
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 5-1
3. Dallas Cowboys, 5-1
4. Green Bay Packers, 5-1

5. Los Angeles Rams, 5-1
6. New Orleans Saints, 3-2
7. Minnesota Vikings, 3-3

Outside looking in: Chicago Bears (3-3), Carolina Panthers (3-3), San Francisco 49ers (2-3), Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

Week 7 schedule

Washington (2-4) @ Packers (5-1)
Falcons (2-3) @ Dolphins (1-5)
Panthers (3-3) @ Giants (1-5)
Lions (0-6) @ Rams (5-1)
Texans (1-5) @ Cardinals (6-0)
Bears (3-3) @ Buccaneers (5-1)
Colts (2-4) @ 49ers (2-3)
Saints (3-2) @ Seahawks (2-4)