What the Thanksgiving results have done for the playoff picture
The playoff picture has become a lot clearer in Week 13.
A win for the New Orleans Saints means that they become the first side to secure their passage to the postseason for the winter, and now a host of teams will be setting out to follow them over the rest of Week 13.
Here, we take a look at who needs what this week, and the teams hoping to settle some nerves by getting results over the line.
Any playoff question should start with the New England Patriots, and for good reason: they are inching towards yet another AFC East title, but they are about to face two of their toughest games of the season.
They have only been troubled by the Baltimore Ravens so far this season, but coming up against the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs means that their defensive unit will be tested a lot more than in previous matches
These two sides are in the top 10 for offence and it could change the picture for the top seeding dramatically should one loss occur as the Ravens have head-to-head advantage.
The Patriots will know that victory against the Texans can see them secure passage into the playoffs provided some other results go their way.
With the Pats offence looking diminished in their last few games, at an average of less than 17, they will have to dig deep on defence or find a way to push up the field a bit more and mess with their winning formula.
One of the most interesting match-ups this weekend sees the Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers.
Victory for the Ravens would underline their credentials for top seeding, but a loss would show that the 49ers are still not messing around.
There is all to play for on Sunday, not just to reach the postseason for both sides, but also to ensure that they have favourable draws when they get there.
It may all come down to the heroics or otherwise of Lamar Jackson, an early MVP frontrunner who shone in last Monday’s demolition of the Rams.
Another performance like that and the Ravens could coast through against a determined 49ers side.
After this week, the 49ers have to face the Saints, who will be gunning for the highest seeding they can manage.
Suddenly, there is a lot to play for.
Words: Luke Donovan