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NFL playoff picture: Patriots sneak into a Wild Card spot without even playing in Week 10

Related: Sunday Patriots Notes: New England will face a daunting schedule down the stretch

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots did not take the field in Week 10 and yet they still moved up the standings. After entering the week as the eighth seed in the AFC and therefore out of the playoff picture, they have now managed to climb into the seventh and final wild card spot.

New England did that by leapfrogging the previously seventh-seeded Los Angeles Chargers: L.A. lost its Week 10 game against the San Francisco 49ers 22-16 and now owns the same 5-4 record as the Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals.

However, the Patriots reign supreme among the three clubs due to tiebreakers. New England has a better strength of schedule (.424) than Los Angeles (.293) and a better conference record (4-2) than Cincinnati (2-3). As a result, the seventh seed now belongs to Bill Belichick’s team heading into the second half of the season.

In total, the AFC playoff picture currently looks as follows:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
  3. Tennessee Titans (6-3)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
  5. New York Jets (6-3)
  6. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
  7. New England Patriots (5-4)

On the bubble: 8. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4), 9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), 10. Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1), 11. Cleveland Browns (3-6), 12. Denver Broncos (3-6), 13. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 14. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7), 15. Las Vegas Raiders (2-7), 16. Houston Texans (1-7-1)

As can be seen, all four AFC East teams are in the playoff picture at the moment. The Dolphins are the second seed in the division, with the Jets, Bills and Patriots in the three wild card spots.

Obviously, though, a lot can and will still change over the coming weeks. New England, for example, still has four division games left — starting with a Week 11 contest versus the Jets this coming Sunday.

The NFC playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (8-1)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
  5. New York Giants (7-2)
  6. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
  7. San Francisco 49ers (5-4)

On the bubble: 8. Washington Commanders (5-5), 9. Green Bay Packers (4-6), 10. Atlanta Falcons (4-6), 11. Arizona Cardinals (4-6), 12. Detroit Lions (3-6), 13. Los Angeles Rams (3-6)

14. Carolina Panthers (3-7), 15. New Orleans Saints (3-7), 16. Chicago Bears (3-7)

The biggest stories out of the NFC this week were the Eagles losing their undefeated status at the hands of the Commanders, the Buccaneers beating the Seahawks in the first ever regular season game in Germany, and the Giants leap-frogging their division rival Cowboys to move from sixth to fifth in the conference.