NFL Playoff Picture: Bengals’ Loss Means Patriots Inch Closer To No. 1 Seed

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Nov 17, 2015

The New England Patriots won Sunday against the New York Giants, and they won again Monday night without even playing.

The Patriots are all alone atop the AFC with a 9-0 record. They own that spot all by themselves, thanks to the Houston Texans, of all teams. The Texans knocked off the previously unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals on “Monday Night Football,” giving the Patriots the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the AFC — yet again.

If you’re going to bet on anything when it comes to the 2015 NFL playoff field, it might as well be the Patriots taking that top seed because nothing else is certain. There figures to be plenty of week-to-week movement, as we’re just a little more than halfway through the season.

With that being said, it’s never too early to look at and project the playoff picture, so here’s a look at what the field would look like if the playoffs started today.*

AFC

First-round byes
1. New England Patriots (9-0)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-1)

Wild card matchups (Jan. 9-10)
No. 6 Buffalo Bills (5-4) at No. 3 Denver Broncos (7-2)
No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

Notes: The AFC South not only stinks, but it’s still wide open, as the Houston Texans are in a virtual tie for first place after beating Cincinnati on Monday night … The Jets are still very much alive despite losing to Buffalo, especially considering the Bills must go to New England on Monday night.

NFC

First-round byes
1. Carolina Panthers (9-0)
2. Arizona Cardinals (7-2)

Wild card matchups (Jan. 9-10)
No. 6 Atlanta Falcons (6-3) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
No. 5 Green Bay Packers (6-3) at No. 4 New York Giants (5-5)

Notes: The Packers have fallen from contending for the No. 1 spot to fighting for their playoff lives. … There are six NFC teams sitting at 4-5 just waiting for a team like Green Bay or Atlanta to fall out of contention.

*The playoffs don’t start today — or even tomorrow.

Playoff scenarios via NFL.com
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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