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NFL playoff picture: Patriots remain on the outside looking in after Week 13

Related: The Patriots offense is broken. Can it be fixed, though?

New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The New England Patriots entered the 13th weekend of the NFL season with a loss in their pockets. The team of head coach Bill Belichick was beaten 24-10 by the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football, falling to 6-6 on the year.

But while the defeat made sure New England would stay out of the playoff picture for a second straight week, its consequences were not as bad as they could have been. The Sunday slate, after all, went mostly positively from a Patriots point of view.

Before digging in a bit further, let’s take a look at the standings with one NFC game left to be played on Monday.

  1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-5)

On the bubble: 8. New England Patriots (6-6), 9. Los Angeles Chargers (6-6), 10. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7), 11. Cleveland Browns (5-7), 12. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 13. Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1), 14. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8), 15. Denver Broncos (3-9)

Eliminated: 16. Houston Texans (1-10-1)

The Bills and Bengals were the big winners of Week 13, with Buffalo benefitting from Kansas City (27-24 at Cincinnati) and Miami (33-17 at San Francisco) losing their games to jump to the top of the conference. Additionally, Cincinnati saw its closest competition for a wild card spot all drop its games as well to solidify its position in the picture.

The Bengals’ win was a negative outcome from a Patriots point of view, with them now two full games behind Cincinnati. That said, the defeats suffered by the aforementioned Dolphins — dropping from No. 2 to No. 6 in the AFC — as well as the Jets (27-22 at Minnesota) and Chargers (27-20 at Las Vegas) did help New England at least stay close.

And when taking a look at the upcoming schedule for all these teams, there might be some opportunities for New England to sneak into a playoff spot after all:

René Bugner

For New England, the goal is clear: the team needs to take care of business itself before worrying about the other wild card contenders in the AFC. And doing so will also not be easy considering the games the team has left on its schedule; anything less than 4-1 might not be enough to make it into the tournament.

The NFC playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows ahead of the Monday night tilt between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)
  6. New York Giants (7-4-1)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

On the bubble: 8. Washington Commanders (7-5-1), 9. Detroit Lions (5-7)

Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 10. Green Bay Packers (5-8), 11. Atlanta Falcons (5-8), 12. Arizona Cardinals (4-8), 13. Carolina Panthers (4-8), 14. New Orleans Saints (4-8), 15. Los Angeles Rams (3-9)

Eliminated: 16. Chicago Bears (3-10)

There was one change in the playoff picture, with the Seahawks jumping into the final wild card spot courtesy of the Commanders’ 20-20 tie in New York. The rest of the playoff picture remains unchanged for now, even though the season-ending injury suffered by 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo might give Seattle an opportunity to climb even higher.