Projecting the 12 teams most deserving of a playoff berth and ranking them heading into Week 13:
1. Baltimore (9-2)
This could be the last real test — the Bills’ defense is pretty good next week — before the end of the season. The Ravens need to win out and have New England lose again to grab the AFC’s top seed.
This week: versus San Francisco (10-1). Last week’s ranking: 1.
2. New England (10-1)
Bill Belichick has not lost to former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, and that doesn’t figure to change now.
This week: at Houston (7-4). Last week’s ranking: 2.
3. San Francisco (10-1)
If there’s any defense that can slow Lamar Jackson, it’s a 49ers unit that absolutely smothered Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.
This week: at Baltimore (9-2). Last week’s ranking: 3.
4. New Orleans (9-2)
Don’t think Sean Payton will be sending a gift this holiday season to director of officiating Al Riveron, who nearly cost the Saints a game with a pass interference overturn. Ironic.
This week: at Atlanta (3-8), Thursday. Last week’s ranking: 4.
5. Seattle (9-2)
With Russell Wilson scuffling, RB Rashaad Penny put the Seahawks on his back with 129 yards on 14 carries to beat the Eagles.
This week: versus Minnesota (8-3). Last week’s ranking: 6.
6. Green Bay (8-3)
Most disappointing aspect of the blowout loss to the Niners? A defense, off a bye, that yielded 5.1 yards. Hard to stop that offense that way.
This week: at Giants (2-9). Last week’s ranking: 5.
7. Minnesota (8-3)
The Vikings predictably feasted off the easy part of their schedule, but this is a true litmus test at the Seahawks.
This week: at Seattle (9-2). Last week’s ranking: 7.
8. Kansas City (7-4)
Expect Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid to get real pass-happy against a Raiders secondary that was torched by the Jets’ Sam Darnold.
This week: versus Raiders (6-5). Last week’s ranking: 8.
9. Houston (7-4)
Bill O’Brien and Deshaun Watson have scored points on the Patriots in the past, but Romeo Crennel never has an answer for Tom Brady.
This week: versus Patriots (10-1). Last week’s ranking: 9.
10. Dallas (6-5)
The Bills’ defense is going to give the Cowboys a lot of trouble … if you thought Jerry Jones was mad at Jason Garrett on Sunday, wait until Dallas struggles at home on Thanksgiving.
This week: versus Buffalo (8-3), Thursday. Last week’s ranking: 10.
11. Oakland (6-5)
Steelers are still technically the sixth seed in the AFC, but the Raiders get a reprieve for a week. I might be more worried about the Titans than Pittsburgh or Indianapolis.
This week: at Kansas City (7-4). Last week’s ranking: 11.
12. Buffalo (8-3)
The Bills still, deservedly, get no respect. That could change with a win at Dallas on national TV.
This week: at Dallas (6-5). Last week’s ranking: 12.
Dropped out: None.
Knocking on the door: Titans (6-5), Colts (6-5), Rams (6-5), Eagles (5-6), Panthers (5-6), Browns 5-6).