It is hard to believe that we are already twelve weeks into the NFL season. Now, with teams only having five or six games left to play, the playoffs are approaching at almost breakneck speed. Whether you have money riding on any of the games or are just an impassioned NFL fan, now is as good a time as any to start paying real close attention to who the main contenders are at this point of the tournament and what is likely to change in the coming weeks. Here’s a closer look at who’s in, who’s out, and who has a fighting chance of making the playoffs.

Some Have Virtually Made the Cut

There are a number of teams who are already virtual locks that will be featuring in the postseason. First on the list are the Packers who currently have an impressive three-and-a-half game-lead in the N.F.C. North. In the N.F.C West, the Cardinals are up two games while the Buccaneers are enjoying a three-game lead in the South. Finally, the Titans are also two up in the A.F.C South, securing a 98% chance of making it to this year’s playoffs. While there is always the possibility that disaster may strike a team and they end up missing the playoffs, the chances of that happening are very, very slim.

Many Still Have a Fighting Chance

In addition to the four division leaders who are virtually a shoo-in for the playoffs, the other current division leaders all still have a very good chance to make the cut. The Cowboys are currently sitting comfortably at two up in the N.F.C East while the Ravens are a pretty one up in the A.F.C North. The Ravens have had a particularly interesting season thus far with placekicker Justin Tucker recording the longest punt in NFL history in his team’s game against the Detroit Lion on September 26.  The most agonizing race at the moment is, however, between the Bills and the Patriots in the A.F.C East although the loser will more than likely reach the playoffs via a wildcard anyway.

It’s the End of the Road for Some Teams

Despite their best efforts, there are a number of teams that have reached the end of the playoffs road for the season, unless a very unlikely miracle occurs. The Lions, who have not managed to win a single game, are as good as eliminated while the Jaguars, Texans, Seahawks, and Jets are all tethering on the brink of elimination as well. There are a handful of teams whose fate is yet undetermined. At present, the Giants, Dolphins, Bears, Panthers, and Falcons all still have a slight chance of making the playoffs.  If all goes their way, any of these teams can still rise upwards in their respective divisions.

With only one-third of the season left, there isn’t much time for any team who is not at the top of their division, to earn enough points to make it to the playoffs. It would, however, not be very wise to rule out an upset at this stage of the tournament just yet as it wouldn’t be the first time that the underdog walks away with the title in the end.