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NFL playoff picture: Top-seeded Patriots share AFC’s best record with 2 other teams

Related: Patriots are among the winners of Week 14 without even playing

New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots entered their Week 14 bye in a comfortable position. Coming off seven straight wins and in possession of a 9-4 record, they did not just stand atop the AFC East but the conference as a whole. And even with them not playing over the weekend, neither status changed.

As a look at the AFC’s current playoff picture shows, the Patriots still reign supreme. However, they find themselves in a three-team tie as far as best record in the conference is concerned:

  1. New England Patriots (9-4)
  2. Tennessee Titans (9-4)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5)
  6. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
  7. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

On the bubble: 8. Cleveland Browns (7-6), 9. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6), 10. Denver Broncos (7-6), 11. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1), 12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-7), 13. Miami Dolphins (6-7)

Eliminated: New York Jets (3-10), Houston Texans (2-11), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11)

While the Patriots did stay atop the AFC through Week 14, there was some movement behind them. The Chiefs leap-frogged the Ravens for the third spot in the standings, with the Colts — New England’s upcoming opponent — moved up all the way from the ninth to the sixth position despite also being on their bye. The Bengals, meanwhile, dropped out of the playoff picture after entering the weekend as the No. 6 seed.

Long story short, the race for playoff seeding in the AFC remains a tight one. New England is on the inside track to earn the top seed and the playoff bye associated with it, but the team’s next four games against the Colts, Bills, Jaguars and Dolphins have the potential to shake up the standings significantly — even if the Patriots lost just one of those contests.

The NFC’s playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows:

  1. Green Bay Packers (10-3)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-3)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (9-4)
  5. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (7-6)
  7. Washington Football Team (6-7)

On the bubble: 8. Minnesota Vikings (6-7), 9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7), 10. Atlanta Falcons (6-7), 11. New Orleans Saints (6-7), 12. Carolina Panthers (5-8), 13. Seattle Seahawks (5-8)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 14. New York Giants (4-9), 15. Chicago Bears (4-9)

Eliminated: Detroit Lions (1-11-1)

Just like the AFC, the NFC also is tight heading into the 15th week of the season. However, it is far more top heavy than its counterpart: the top five teams in the conference will fight for the top four seeds, while the other 10 clubs not yet eliminated will compete for the remaining two wild card spots currently occupied by the 49ers and the Football Team.

As far as the standings are concerned, there have been some changes in Week 14. The Packers and Buccaneers moved up one spot each; the previously top-seeded Cardinals fell down to the third seed following their Monday night defeat against the Rams.