NFL Playoff Picture: Patriots In Precarious Position After Loss To Chiefs

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December 10, 2019

Here’s an updated look at the NFL playoff picture entering Week 15:

AFC
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-2; AFC North leader)
2. New England Patriots (10-3; AFC East leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4; AFC West winner)
4. Houston Texans (8-5; AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills (9-4; first wild card)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5; second wild card)

In the hunt: Tennessee Titans (8-5)
Long shots: Cleveland Browns (6-7), Oakland Raiders (6-7), Indianapolis Colts (6-7), Denver Broncos (5-8)
Eliminated: Los Angeles Chargers (5-8), New York Jets (5-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), Miami Dolphins (3-10), Cincinnati Bengals (1-12)

NFC
1. San Francisco 49ers (11-2; NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers (10-3; NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints (10-3; NFC South winner)
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-7; NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3; first wild card)
6. Minnesota Vikings (9-4; second wild card)

In the hunt: Los Angeles Rams (8-5), Chicago Bears (7-6), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
Eliminated: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7), Carolina Panthers (5-8), Atlanta Falcons (4-9), Detroit Lions (3-9-1), Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1), Washington Redskins (3-10), New York Giants (2-11)

Some observations:

— Barring a late-season collapse, the Ravens should enter the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. They’ve won nine in a row, including victories over the Steelers, Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams, Niners and, most recently, Josh Allen and the Bills.

— In order for the Patriots, who lost to the Chiefs 23-16 on Sunday, to secure home-field advantage, Baltimore would need to lose at least two of its final three games. With three losses in the last five weeks, New England now is feeling pressure from Kansas City and Buffalo, both of whom sit just one game back.

If the Patriots and Bills can defeat the Bengals and Steelers, respectively, this week, we could see a winner-take-all battle for the AFC East title next Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

— The Titans are the only legit playoff contender left in the AFC hunt, and they’ve been phenomenal since Ryan Tannehill took over behind center, winning four in a row and six of their last seven. Their two remaining matchups with the Texans will decide the AFC South.

— The Niners reclaimed the top spot in the NFC by taking down the Saints in a 48-46 epic at the Superdome. The Packers, who narrowly beat the woeful Redskins, made the all-important jump from the No. 3 seed to No. 2.

— The NFC East winner will have no more than nine wins.

— The defending NFC champion Rams have taken a significant step back this season, but Sunday night’s 28-12 win over the Seahawks put them just one game back of the Vikings for the final wild-card spot.

— This week’s schedule features just one matchup between teams currently inside the playoff picture: Bills at Steelers on Sunday night. Texans at Titans should be entertaining, as well.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
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