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Rams, Chiefs squaring off for conference superiority on MNF

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We’ve got an updated look at the 2018 NFL playoff picture.

The NFL has one more game left in Week 12, and it’s a doozy. We get a matchup of 9-1 squads on Monday Night Football, as the Los Angeles Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a potential Super Bowl preview, but Week 12 showed us some teams that are ready to give both of them a run for their money.

The San Francisco 49ers won’t be taking part in the playoffs this season, but it’s still worth checking out who is looking at a chance to play come January. Additionally, for the NFC playoff picture we’ll take a weekly look at how the 49ers might impact it.

NFC playoff picture

1. New Orleans Saints (9-1)
2. Los Angeles Rams (9-1)
3. Chicago Bears (7-3)
4. Washington (6-4)

5. Carolina Panthers (6-4)
6. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)

In the hunt: Seattle Seahawks (5-5), Dallas Cowboys (5-5), Green Bay Packers (4-5-1), Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Detroit Lions (4-6), Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Rams are currently tied with the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the NFC. The Saints beat the Rams, so LA needs to keep on winning if they want to take home field advantage that comes with the No. 1 seed. The Saints destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, beating them 48-7 in a game that was never close. Right now, the Saints are looking like the best team in football, but I would love to see a Saints-Rams NFC title game.

The biggest news of Sunday however, was Alex Smith’s broken leg. The Washington quarterback suffered the gruesome injury in the third quarter against the Houston Texans. Colt McCoy was actually rather impressive in place of Smith, but Houston beat Washington on a late field goal. The NFC East has been wide open most of the season, and is all the more so with Washington losing their starting quarterback.

The 49ers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12, so that has no impact on the playoff picture. The team’s remaining schedule, however, is all playoff implications. The 49ers travel to Seattle in Week 13, host Seattle in Week 15, host Chicago in Week 16, and travel to face the Rams in Week 17. Last year, the 49ers faced a Rams team resting its players for the playoffs. This year, the Rams could be playing for the No. 1 overall seed, and depending on how these next few weeks go, could even be playing for a first round bye.

Key Week 12 matchups:

Washington (5-5) @ Dallas (4-6)
Seattle (5-5) @ Carolina (6-4)
Green Bay (4-5-1) @ Minnesota (5-3-1)

AFC playoff picture

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)
3. New England Patriots (7-4)
4. Houston Texans (7-3)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

In the hunt: Cincinnati Bengals (5-5), Miami Dolphins (5-5), Indianapolis Colts (5-5), Tennessee Titans (5-5), Denver Broncos (4-6)

The Chiefs have just over a game and a half lead on the Steelers, who had a huge comeback win over the Jaguars. The Chargers have been hanging close, but a tough home upset at the hands of the Broncos drops them two back and given how the Chiefs are playing, might end the Chargers divisional hopes.

Houston just keeps on trucking along, finding ways to win. They edged out Washington on a late field goal and have now won seven straight. They are finding different ways to win, but this win streak just seems kind of out of nowhere.

The Ravens will be an interesting team to watch in the AFC over the final six weeks. They sent out Lamar Jackson in place of an injured Joe Flacco, and they were able to come back and beat Cincinnati. Jackson made some bad decisions at times, but completed 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards, and was a machine on the ground. The Ravens dialed up a host of running plays, with Jackson finishing the game with 117 rushing yards on 27 carries. It will be fascinating to see what the Ravens do at the quarterback position in Week 12 against the Oakland Raiders.

Key Week 12 matchups:

Pittsburgh (7-2-1) @ Denver (4-6)
Miami (5-5) @ Indianapolis (5-5)
Tennessee (5-5) @ Houston (7-3)