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Week 12 AFC playoff picture: Here come the Patriots

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Eleven weeks of the 2021 NFL season are in the books and the playoff picture is starting to come into focus with Thanksgiving a few days away

The Titans remain on top of the conference, but a Week 11 loss to the Texans has dropped them closer to the competition and they could be off their perch entirely come Sunday night. They’ll face the Patriots, who have won five straight games to move to the top of the AFC East and position themselves as a possible top seed in the entire conference if they can keep that hot streak going.

With 12 AFC teams at .500 or above, there’s a lot of other things going on in the playoff chase and here’s how everyone stacks up heading into Week 12:

1. Titans (8-3) Sunday’s loss ended a six-game winning streak, but their sweep of the Colts keeps them comfortably ahead in the AFC South heading into that big matchup with the Patriots.

2. Ravens (7-3) The next three games on the schedule are all divisional games, so the Ravens will be hoping to have Lamar Jackson back at 100 percent to continue their push for the AFC North title.

3. Patriots (7-4) The Patriots are surging at a moment when the Bills are flailing, which could mean that their absence from the top of the AFC East was only a one-year change.

4. Chiefs (7-4) Two straight wins makes it feel like they’ve righted the ship and they’ll have a bye week to rest up for the stretch run.

5. Bengals (6-4) The Bengals snapped a two-game losing streak in Las Vegas and they can deal the Steelers a blow this week.

6. Chargers (6-4) Outlasting the Steelers on Sunday night was a good thing and rolling up 533 yards in the process gives hope that the Chargers have more big wins in their future.

7. Bills (6-4) Sunday’s loss to the Colts knocked them out of first place in the AFC East and was ugly enough to create doubt that they’ll stay in the playoff mix when all is said and done.

8. Steelers (5-4-1) They played better against the Chargers than they did in a Week 10 tie with the Lions, but a loss is still a loss and the Steelers can’t afford too many more of them.

9. Colts (6-5) Jonathan Taylor‘s huge day in Buffalo moved the Colts to 6-2 in their last eight games and they’ll try to continue the surge in Tampa this week.

10. Browns (6-5) Their win over the Lions felt like a loss, but no one will be complaining if they win ugly in Baltimore this week.

11. Raiders (5-5) Sunday’s loss was their third straight and it’s starting to feel a lot like the last two seasons for the Raiders.

12. Broncos (5-5) Denver has the Chargers and the Chiefs the next two weeks, so they could be out of realistic playoff hopes by Week 14.

13. Dolphins (4-7) Three straight wins is reason for some happiness in Miami, but they probably stacked up too many losses to overcome.

14. Texans (2-8) Sunday’s matchup with the Jets has major draft implications.

15. Jaguars (2-8) Urban Meyer said Trevor Lawrence played one of his best games in a blowout loss to the 49ers and player development is all that’s left for the Jags this year.

16. Jets (2-8) The continued struggles of the Seahawks, who traded their 2022 first-round pick for Jamal Adams, are a silver lining to another losing season.


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