The 2018 NFL regular season has reached its home stretch, with each team down to its final five games. Many of the top divisional spots look relatively secure, but the wild card races are shaping up to be as messy as ever.

With that in mind, let’s break down the playoff picture following Week 12 action.

AFC right now
1. Chiefs (9-2)
2. Patriots (8-3)
3. Texans (8-3)
4. Steelers (7-3-1)
5. Chargers (8-3)
6. Ravens (6-5)
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7. Colts (6-5)
8. Dolphins (5-6)
9. Bengals (5-6)
10. Broncos (5-6)
11. Titans (5-6)
12. Browns (4-6-1)

Those seven teams within 1.5 games of each other make things complicated, especially considering that only really Baltimore and Indy are alive in divisional races. One or two teams will likely finish hot to get in with nine or 10 wins.

AFC projection
1. Chiefs (13-3)
2. Patriots (12-4)
3. Texans (11-5)
4. Steelers (10-5-1)
5. Chargers (10-6)
6. Ravens (9-7)
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7. Colts (9-7)
8. Broncos (9-7)
9. Titans (9-7)

Yeah, we’re probably looking at a whole bunch of tiebreakers. And look for the Pats to keep pushing the Chiefs, while Texans, Steelers, and Chargers settle in as fairly obvious 3, 4, and 5 seeds. Chargers-Steelers would be damn fun on wild card weekend.

NFC right now
1. Saints (10-1)
2. Rams (10-1)
3. Bears (8-3)
4. Cowboys (6-5)
5. Vikings (6-4-1)
6. Redskins (6-5)
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7. Seahawks (6-5)
8. Panthers (6-5)
9. Eagles (5-6)
10. Packers (4-6-1)

New Orleans has a tiebreaker edge but a tougher finishing schedule than the Rams, but both should get byes anyway. The Bears are running away with the North, but it’s a mess after that as Dallas, Washington, and Philly fight for a division while also battling for one or two wild card spots with the Vikings, Seahawks, Panthers, and even the Packers.

NFC projection
1. Saints (14-2)
2. Rams (14-2)
3. Bears (11-5)
4. Eagles (9-7)
5. Seahawks (10-6)
6. Vikings (9-6-1)

I figure both the Saints and Rams have one loss each in them, but it’s doubtful either drops multiple games if they’re still competing with each other. I don’t trust the Cowboys or Redskins to hold off Philadelphia in the NFC East race, and Carolina’s tough schedule could allow both Seattle and Minnesota to get in as wild cards.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.