The New England Patriots were off this weekend, but they still were able to improve their playoff standing.
The Los Angeles Chargers’ 22-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on “Sunday Night Football” propelled the idle Patriots into the AFC postseason picture. At 5-4, New England now holds the conference’s third and final wild-card spot thanks to tiebreakers over the Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are the updated AFC playoff standings after Week 10:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2; AFC West leader)
2. Miami Dolphins (7-3; AFC East leader)
3. Tennessee Titans (6-3; AFC South leader)
4. Baltimore Ravens (6-3; AFC North leader)
5. New York Jets (6-3; first wild card)
6. Buffalo Bills (6-3; second wild card)
7. New England Patriots (5-4; third wild card)
If the season ended Sunday, all four AFC East teams would qualify for the playoffs, with the Bills, Jets and Dolphins joining the Patriots. The Patriots trail the Bills — who lost a wild overtime thriller to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday — and Jets by just one game and sit just 1 1/2 games back of the division-leading Dolphins, though Miami currently holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its head-to-head victory in Week 1.
Long gone are the days when the AFC East was a collection of tomato cans for Tom Brady and the Patriots to pummel. It’s now the most competitive division in football, with all four of its members currently sitting above .500.
The Patriots will host the Jets this coming Sunday for a rematch of their Week 8 encounter, which New England won 22-17 at MetLife Stadium. They’ll face the Bills twice over the final nine weeks (at home in Week 13 and at Buffalo in Week 18) and welcome the Dolphins to Gillette Stadium in Week 17.