Riding the fourth-longest active win streak in the NFL at three straight victories, the New England Patriots have been able to improve their position quite a bit over these last few weeks. After failing to leave the bottom of the AFC East and standing outside a playoff spot, they entered the picture in Week 10 as the seventh seed in the conference.
One week later, they have now moved up to sixth courtesy of their 10-3 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. As a result of the victory, the Patriots are now the best of the six-win teams in the conference — leading the seventh-seeded Cincinnati Bengals and these very Jets, who dropped out of the playoff picture entirely, because of tiebreakers.
All in all, the AFC playoff picture currently looks as follows:
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-2)
- Miami Dolphins (7-3)
- Tennessee Titans (7-3)
- Baltimore Ravens (7-3)
- Buffalo Bills (7-3)
- New England Patriots (6-4)
- Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
On the bubble: 8. New York Jets (6-4), 9. Los Angeles Chargers (5-5), 10. Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)
Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 11. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7), 12. Las Vegas Raiders (3-7), 13. Cleveland Browns (3-7), 14. Denver Broncos (3-7), 15. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7), 16. Houston Texans (1-8-1)
Even though the Chiefs hold a one-win advantage over their rivals at the top, everything is still possible in the Patriots’ conference (except a team from the putrid AFC South overtaking the Titans). A look at the playoff odds calculated by FiveThirtyEight illustrates this as well.
Kansas City (>99%), Tennessee (98%), Baltimore (97%), Buffalo (94%) and Miami (91%) are all relatively safe bets to make the postseason. Behind them, things are not that quite that clear with Cincinnati (59%), New England (55%), New York (46%), Los Angeles (31%) and Indianapolis (18%) the next in line.
Realistically, those 10 teams will be competing for the seven available playoff spots. The Patriots hold head-to-head tiebreakers over two of them — the Jets and Colts — and will still go up against the Bengals as well as the Bills (twice) and Dolphins.
Everything is indeed possible, in both directions.
The NFC playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows:
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-2)
- San Francisco 49ers (6-4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
- New York Giants (7-3)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
On the bubble: 8. Washington Commanders (6-5), 9. Atlanta Falcons (5-6), 10. Detroit Lions (4-6), 11. Green Bay Packers (4-7), 12. New Orleans Saints (4-7), 13. Arizona Cardinals (4-7), 14. Los Angeles Rams (3-7)
Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 15. Carolina Panthers (3-8), 16. Chicago Bears (3-8)
The NFC playoff picture saw a bit of a shakeup this week. The 49ers jumped into the third seed and to the top of the western conference due to their 38-10 Monday night victory over the Cardinals; they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys and Giants changed spots after New York suffered a surprising home loss to the suddenly-red-hot Lions.