Week 13 delivered a shakeup at the top of both conference playoff standings. By the end of Monday night, the Saints were atop the NFC, and the Ravens had taken the lead for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are now in control of the NFC West, and the 49ers -- undoubtedly one of the best teams in football -- are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC.
Note: X denotes a team that has clinched a playoff berth, Z shows a team that has clinched its division, and Y indicates a team that has secured a first-round bye. An asterisk shows home-field advantage.
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
The Ravens slugged it out Sunday with the 49ers in what many think (or hope) was a Super Bowl preview. Justin Tucker's 49-yard field goal gave the Ravens an eighth consecutive victory, and a few hours later, it allowed them to leapfrog the Patriots for the top spot in the conference. Remember, the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over not only the Patriots but also the Texans.
This story hasn't been fully written, as the Ravens have two difficult games remaining against playoff contenders: at Buffalo and home against Pittsburgh. But for the moment, it's reasonable to expect the road to the Super Bowl to go through Baltimore.
Next up: at Buffalo
2. New England Patriots (10-2)
We know what's coming: A week's worth of public debate about whether the Patriots are cooked. For the record, they lost their second game of the season Sunday in Houston and are far from finished. But in the top-heavy AFC, a December loss carries weight. The Patriots have lost control of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But they'll play three of their final four games at home, with one trip to the 1-11 Bengals. And they tend to play pretty well at home late in the season. Since 2001, they're an NFL-best 36-4 at Gillette Stadium in the month of December.
Next up: vs. Kansas City
3. Houston Texans (8-4)
The Texans pulled off one of the biggest wins of the Bill O'Brien era on Sunday, letting the world know they are serious playoff contenders with a start-to-finish defeat of the Patriots. They are on track to win the AFC South for the fourth time in the past five seasons, but their playoff positioning isn't likely to change much from its current spot. They'll need to gain two games on the Patriots in four weeks, or three on the Ravens, to move into one of the top two spots in the AFC.
Next up: vs. Denver
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
The Chiefs all but wrapped up their fourth consecutive AFC West title by blowing out the Raiders 40-9 on Sunday. FPI gives them a 99.5% chance to clinch their division, which could happen as early as Week 14 with a victory and a Raiders loss. The Chiefs' spot in the standings will depend in part on how the Texans fare moving forward; the Texans own the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams.
Next up: at New England
5. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Thanksgiving Day brought one of the Bills' most meaningful and impressive victories in two decades. By dismantling the division-leading Cowboys on the road in a short week, the Bills showed that they are capable of more than just feasting on a weak schedule. As a result, they are now a near lock for a wild-card playoff spot. They're even in position to swoop into the AFC East lead if the Patriots falter. The Bills' chance to reach the postseason is 96.6%, according to FPI. With one more victory, they'll have their best regular-season record since 1999.
Next up: vs. Baltimore
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
The Steelers' sixth win in seven games allowed them to hold on to a spot for which their primary competition is the Titans. At the moment, the Steelers hold the tiebreaker because of a better conference record. But they have two really tough AFC games remaining: at home against the Bills in Week 15 and at the Ravens in Week 17. For now, FPI is giving the Steelers a better chance (42.5%) to make the playoffs than the Titans (38.6%), but there is still a lot to be decided.
Next up: at Arizona
1. New Orleans Saints (10-2) -- Z
Having clinched the NFC South on Thanksgiving, the Saints are in the driver's seat for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks' victory Monday night knocked the 49ers out of the NFC West lead, and the Saints elevated to the top spot in the conference -- rather than the Seahawks -- because they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. They will have a chance to add to a tiebreaker advantage over the 49ers when they host them on Sunday.
Next up: vs. San Francisco
2. Seattle Seahawks (10-2)
Here they are. The Seahawks' victory Monday night put them in control of the NFC West and in position to take home-field advantage in the NFC if the Saints falter. Their schedule isn't easy; they'll travel to play the Rams on a short week and then play at the Panthers. That's why FPI gives them only a 52% chance to win the division. But based on how this season has gone, is anyone ready to bet against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks?
Next up: at Los Angeles Rams
3. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
At the moment, at least, the Packers are looking pretty good for the NFC North title. FPI is giving them a 73% chance to win their division after the Vikings' loss Monday in Seattle. Now the Packers can win the division even if they lose the teams' Week 16 showdown at U.S. Bank Stadium. In that scenario, the most the Packers would need to do is defeat the Redskins and Bears at home in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively, then win in Detroit in Week 17 -- assuming the Vikings win their final four games. In either event, it's a pretty reasonable path.
Next up: vs. Washington
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
The Cowboys owe a thank you to the Eagles, who gave up 37 points to the tanking Dolphins and lost on Sunday. In no other division would a 6-6 record put a team on track to host a playoff game. But that's where the Cowboys find themselves, largely because the Eagles have lost three consecutive games. Dallas has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season (in five attempts) but could cruise into the playoffs by defeating the teams on its schedule that currently have losing records. But the Cowboys should be careful. The Eagles can overtake them by winning their remaining games, including a Week 16 game against the Cowboys. What a world.
Next up: at Chicago
5. San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
The seemingly unthinkable has happened. The 49ers have lost two games by a total of six points, both on final-play field goals. They dropped out of first place in the NFC West, courtesy of the Seahawks' tiebreaker advantage, and are no longer in control of home-field advantage in the NFC. All is not lost, of course. If they keep pace with the Seahawks, they'll have a chance to break the logjam in the teams' Week 17 rematch. That's why FPI is hardly writing off the 49ers. They still have a 48% chance to win the division and the likely first-round bye that goes with it. But they'll have to earn it, starting with another really tough game in New Orleans this weekend.
Next up: at New Orleans
6. Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
The Vikings remain in good shape for a wild-card spot, but Monday night's loss is going to make it really difficult for them to overtake the Packers in the NFC North. They can't do it solely by defeating the Packers in Week 16. The Vikings also need the Packers to lose at least once to the Redskins (2-9), Bears (6-6) and/or Lions (3-8-1). Per FPI, there is a 27% chance of all that happening. But in the relatively top-heavy NFC, the Vikings still have an 84% chance to make the playoffs as a wild card.
Next up: vs. Detroit