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2019 NFL playoff picture: Patriots still control their own destiny for a first-round bye

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Related: Patriots vs Chiefs recap: Early errors too much to overcome; New England loses 23-16

New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

For the first time this season, the New England Patriots had to suffer back-to-back losses on Sunday: the team fell 23-16 to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs, and now finds itself sitting at 10-3 heading into the home stretch of the season. But while they know lose the head-to-head tiebreaker against not just the Chiefs but the other two division leaders in the AFC as well, the Patriots still control their own destiny in the conference’s postseason race.

As a look at the current playoff picture shows, the organization is still a game ahead of the third-seeded Chiefs and on its way to earning a first-round playoff bye for the 10th season in a row — even though it appears that the top seed is out of reach now:

AFC playoff picture

  1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2)
  2. New England Patriots (10-3)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
  4. Houston Texans (8-5)
  5. Buffalo Bills (9-4)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

In the hunt: Tennessee Titans (8-5)

After beating the Bills 24-17 on the road on Sunday, anything but the Ravens eventually locking up the top seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs would be a major surprise at this point. This means that the Patriots need to fend off the Chiefs, who claimed the AFC West with their victory on Sunday, for the second first-round bye. New England is still a game ahead but faces a tougher remaining schedule with a second game against Buffalo still on the horizon:

AFC schedule: Week 15—Week 17

Team Ravens Patriots Chiefs Texans Bills Steelers
Team Ravens Patriots Chiefs Texans Bills Steelers
Week 15 vs Jets at Bengals vs Broncos at Titans at Steelers vs Bills
Week 16 at Browns vs Bills at Bears at Buccaneers at Patriots at Jets
Week 17 vs Steelers vs Dolphins vs Chargers vs Titans vs Jets at Ravens

Elsewhere in the division, the race for the AFC South title between the Texans and Titans remains an intriguing one after Houston’s 38-24 home loss against the now 5-8 Denver Broncos. This rings especially true considering that the teams will play each other twice over the remaining three weeks of the regular season. The two contests could have a major impact on the current playoff picture and also impact the wild card race.

NFC playoff picture

  1. San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
  2. Green Bay Packers (10-3)
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (9-4)

In the hunt: Los Angeles Rams (8-5), Chicago Bears (7-6), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

After entering the weekend as the fifth seed in the conference, the 49ers jumped to the top spot again due to their 48-46 road win against the Saints and the Seahawks’ 28-12 loss to the Rams. The whole conference therefore remains wide open, with only the NFC South title yet decided.