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NFL playoff picture: Patriots still on the outside looking in heading into their bye week

Related: Patriots vs. Colts: New England defeats Indianapolis 26-3, improves to 5-4

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have won back-to-back games to move beyond the .500 mark for the first time all season. Now heading into their bye week, they sit at 5-4 following their 26-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The victory might have come against a moribund opponent, but it was still an important one for New England. It allowed the team to carry some momentum into its weekend off and also to stay very much alive in the playoff race: the eighth seed in the AFC at the moment, the Patriots are just on the outside looking in.

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

On the bubble: 8. New England Patriots (5-4), 9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), 10. Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1), 11. Cleveland Browns (3-5), 12. Denver Broncos (3-5), 13. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 14. Las Vegas Raiders (2-6), 15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6), 16. Houston Texans (1-6-1)

The AFC East continues to show why it is arguably the best division in football right now. The Bills stand atop the conference with a 6-2 record, holding the head-to-head tiebreaker versus Kansas City. Buffalo, however, lost to the Jets in Week 9, who themselves own the fifth seed and top wild card spot. Behind them at No. 6 is another AFC East team, the 6-3 Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are just outside the playoff picture at the moment. They are the current eighth seed but there is a realistic chance they move up into the seventh spot in Week 10: if Los Angeles loses on the road in San Francisco this week, New England will leapfrog the Chargers in the standings due to its superior strength of victory tiebreaker.

The NFC playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-0)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (7-1)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
  6. New York Giants (6-2)
  7. San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

On the bubble: 8. Atlanta Falcons (4-5), 9. Washington Commanders (4-5), Los Angeles Rams (3-5), 11. New Orleans Saints (3-6), 12. Green Bay Packers (3-6), 13. Arizona Cardinals (3-6), 14. Chicago Bears (3-6)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 15. Detroit Lions (2-6), 16. Carolina Panthers (2-7)

The NFC continues to be rather top-heavy, with the Eagles and Vikings clearly atop their divisions and the general standings in the conference. The other division leaders are the 6-3 Seahawks and the 4-5 Buccaneers, who are the only current playoff team with a losing record.

The wild card spots belong to a pair of 6-2 teams as well as the 4-4 49ers. Those spots, and especially that seventh one, will be highly contested in the coming weeks.