The AFC playoff race is shaping up to be an absolute classic. Nine teams have at least six wins, and the Tennesee Titans, who were undefeated through five weeks, wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they started today. Not only that, they wouldn’t even be the first team out. That distinction belongs to the 6-3 Browns. Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Giants made things much more interesting in the NFC East when they defeated the Eagles. On the other side of the country, DeAndre Hopkins’ incredible catch sent the NFC West into a three-way tie for first place.
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32) New York Jets (Prev: 32)
The Jets were off this week, but that doesn’t prevent them from keeping their place as the worst team in the NFL. With a loss this week and enough of the AFC’s 6-3 teams winning, the Jets would be eliminated from playoff contention.
31) Jacksonville Jaguars (Prev: 31)
The Jags actually led in the fourth quarter against Green Bay, but they couldn’t do enough to find a way to spring the upset over the Packers. That’s now eight straight losses, and with a game against Pittsburgh on the horizon, a losing season seems all but secured for Jacksonville.
30) Dallas Cowboys (Prev: 30)
The Cowboys were off this week, but they got a lot of good news when it comes to the NFC East picture. The Giants upset the Eagles, meaning that at 2-7, the Cowboys are just two losses behind the Eagles for first place in the division.
29) Washington Football Team (Prev: 29)
Washington very nearly pulled off an epic comeback against the Lions, but ultimately fell victim to a monstrous kick by Matt Prater as time expired. Washington is now 2-7 and tied with Dallas for last place in the NFC East, though because of how terrible the entire division is, they’re certainly not out of it yet. Antonio Gibson rushed for two touchdowns, and Alex Smith threw for 390 yards in his first start since November 18, 2018.
28) Los Angeles Chargers (Prev: 27)
The Chargers have lost seven of their last eight, and after Sunday’s loss to Miami, their season is all but over. Justin Herbert continued his solid quarterback play, throwing for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, but it wasn’t enough to decipher the Dolphins’ defense. LA will look to get back into the win column next week against the Jets.
27) Houston Texans (Prev: 26)
The weather in Cleveland was a huge problem this weekend, which only amplified the lack of a rushing attack for the Texans. Duke Johnson was the only running back to rush the football and he mustered just 54 yards on 14 carries. Considering the weather, Deshaun Watson had a pretty successful day passing the ball, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the elements and a staunch Browns’ defense.
26) Cincinnati Bengals (Prev: 22)
The Bengals looked absolutely horrible on Sunday. Yes, the game came against the undefeated Steelers, but they were never even close to making it a contest. The defense was easily dissected by Ben Roethlisberger who finished with 333 yards and four touchdowns. The Bengals will have a chance to get back to their competitive ways with back-to-back games against Washington and the Giants.
25) Denver Broncos (Prev: 23)
I think Drew Lock may have thrown another interception as I was writing this sentence. Sunday’s game was a disaster for the young QB who many in Denver were hoping would be the future of their franchise. A four-interception performance against your division rival is not a great way to earn that type of respect. Denver has lost three of four, and with the Dolphins, Saints, and Chiefs on deck, the season is very close to slipping away entirely.
24) Carolina Panthers (Prev: 19)
The wheels have come off in Carolina. The Panthers have lost five straight games, and are probably just one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention. They will take on the Lions this weekend, but may not be able to entirely exploit Detroit’s weak rush defense, as the status of Christian McCaffrey is still unknown.
23) New York Giants (Prev: 28)
Despite a 3-7 record, it is becoming quite apparent that the Giants are the best team in the NFC East. They have won back-to-back games, and their two losses prior to the winning streak, were by a combined three points. New York has been competitive in every single game this season with the exception of one. Now the only question is, can they make up a game and a half on the Eagles with just six games remaining? Big Blue is off this week, but the Giants’ faithful will certainly be rooting for the Browns to defeat the Eagles and put the Giants just a half-game back of the Eagles heading into the home stretch.
22) Philadelphia Eagles (Prev: 18)
The Eagles are incredibly lucky that they came back to beat the Giants on Thursday Night Football back in Week 7. Had they lost that game, they would have been looking up at New York in the NFC East standings. However, a win is a win, and for now, the Eagles are atop the NFC East standings. While winning the division is great, there are serious questions in Philadelphia about how much longer Carson Wentz should be the starting QB. Even if the Eagles win the division, these questions are likely not going away any time soon.
21) San Francisco 49ers (Prev: 17)
It might be time to finally write off the 49ers. Injuries have just decimated their lineup, and despite jumping out to a 10-0 lead over New Orleans, there was never really any doubt that San Francisco was going to lose the game. In the starting role, Nick Mullens finished with 247 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
20) Detroit Lions (Prev: 24)
Will the Lions ever learn to hold onto a lead? Matt Prater bailed them out with a game-winning 59-yard field goal, but why must the Lions make every single game they win dramatic? They led against Washington by 21 deep into the third quarter, and then, like so many other times this season, the wheels started to come off. Detroit got the win, their first at home since 2019, and they inched closer to .500, but if they want to make any sort of run at the playoffs, they will need to start holding onto leads.
19) Atlanta Falcons (Prev: 20)
The Falcons were off this weekend and will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints next week. Atlanta has won three out of four, but have an unbelievably difficult back half of the schedule. They will take on both the Saints and Bucs twice, travel to Kansas City and LA to face the Chargers, and will host the 6-3 Raiders.
18) New England Patriots (Prev: 25)
Just when it seemed safe to write off the Patriots, Bill Belichick and company constructed the perfect game plan to breakdown a very good Ravens’ defense and escape Sunday night with a victory. New England rushed for 173 yards as a team, while they threw for just 135. The Patriots are still looking up at both the Dolphins and the Bills, but they got a much-needed win to stay at least partially in the hunt in the crowded AFC Wild Card picture.
17) Chicago Bears (Prev: 14)
The Bears have now lost four straight after starting the season 5-1. If it wasn’t for two big turnovers by the defense and a kick return touchdown by Cordarelle Patterson, there is a good chance Chicago would have been shutout on Monday. Their offense has just been absolutely horrible of late. The Bears are now up by just a half-game on the Lions and the Vikings as they head into their bye week.
16) Minnesota Vikings (Prev: 21)
If you’re wondering how a 1-5 team can turn their season around in a short amount of time, look no further than the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have won three-straight games, all of which have come against their division rivals. They’re now 4-5, and with Dalvin Cook back and healthy, they look poised to make a serious run at a Wild Card berth. In Monday night’s win, they held the Bears to just 149 yards of total offense.
15) Tennessee Titans (Prev: 9)
If the playoffs started today, the Tennesee Titans would not be apart of them. After starting the season 5-0, they have dropped three of their last four games, and they have road games against the Ravens and Colts up next. The Titans haven’t been bad this season, but they have missed a lot of opportunities. One such miss was AJ Brown’s drop on what was a surefire touchdown that would have put Tennessee up big on Indianapolis. After that drop, the Colts dominated on their way to a 34-17 win.
14) Cleveland Browns (Prev: 16)
Nick Chubb returned to the field this week, and his impact was immediately felt. He rushed 19 times for 126 yards and one touchdown, and he would have had one more yard and one more touchdown had he not elected to step out of bounds in the final minute of the game to run the rest of the clock. In all, Cleveland rushed for 231 yards, as Kareem Hunt added 104 of his own. If the playoffs started today, the Browns would just miss the postseason as they sit in the eighth spot.
13) Seattle Seahawks (Prev: 6)
This all comes down to the old mantra of “What have you done for me lately?” In Seattle, the answer is nothing. The Seahawks have dropped three of their last four games, and they are now in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West. The Seahawks are just 1-2 in the division, and it seems that if Russell Wilson can’t bail them out, they have no chance of winning. In their three losses, Wilson has seven interceptions. In their wins, he has three.
12) Las Vegas Raiders (Prev: 15)
Some were worried that the Raiders would slip up against the Broncos, but Las Vegas proved that they are the far and away second-best team in the AFC West with their 37-12 victory on Sunday. The defense intercepted Drew Lock four times on their way to a turnover differential of +5. Josh Jacobs rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns. They will look for their fourth-straight win this weekend against Kansas City.
11) Indianapolis Colts (Prev: 13)
The Colts used an explosive second half to take care of the Titans and move into first place in the AFC South. With Jonathan Taylor limited, Nyheim Hines accumulated 115 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, as he led the way offensively for Indianapolis. The Colts will take on the Packers this weekend, before a rematch in Week 12 with Tennessee.
10) Baltimore Ravens (Prev: 3)
After briefly silencing critics with their victory over the Colts in Week 9, Baltimore came out on Sunday Night Football and laid an egg. Lamar Jackson had one of his better games of late, throwing for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while also adding 55 yards on the ground. However, the defense could not stop the Patriots’ rushing attack, and because of it, Baltimore is now just 6-3 and barely clinging to a playoff spot in the AFC.
9) Los Angeles Rams (Prev: 12)
The Rams are a hard team to figure out primarily because of how inconsistent they have been this season. In some games, their offense is absolutely terrible like it was against Miami in Week 9, while in other weeks, their whole team just clicks and they look like one of the best teams in the NFL. Week 10 was definitely the latter, as the defense turned Seattle over three times and the offense put up 389 yards. The victory put the Rams in a three-way tie for first in the NFC West, though based on tiebreakers, they are currently in second place.
8) Arizona Cardinals (Prev: 11)
How in the world did DeAndre Hopkins catch that ball? With three defenders draped all over him, he went up and pulled down Kyler Murray’s Hail Mary to send the Cardinals to 6-3 and first place in the NFC West. But let’s not ignore the play Murray made. While all the attention is on the catch, Murray had to break a tackle in the backfield and throw across his body from a weird angle. It was easily the play of the year thus far, and it may be just what the Cardinals needed to secure their spot as one of the best in the NFC.
7) Miami Dolphins (Prev: 10)
If the Dolphins keep this up, Brian Flores has to be Coach of the Year, right? The man has taken a team that was supposed to be a disaster and turned them into a bona fide contender. They are just a half-game behind the Bills for first place in the AFC East and would be in the playoffs if the postseason started today. The Dolphins have rattled off five straight wins, including all three games that Tua has started. The defense is ranked fifth in points allowed per game. With their next three games against the Broncos, Jets, and Bengals, the Dolphins could lock up a winning record by the end of Week 13.
6) Buffalo Bills (Prev: 5)
The Bills were one Hail Mary away from moving 8-2 and maintaining their game and a half lead over the Dolphins heading into the bye week. Instead, DeAndre Hopkins outjumped the Bills’ defenders and made the Bills’ week off a lot less enjoyable. It was an up-and-down game for Josh Allen who threw two interceptions, but he did lead a 12-play 78-yard drive to give the Bills the lead with just 34 seconds remaining.
5) Green Bay Packers (Prev: 8)
Sunday’s win was not the blowout that many expected, but the Packers did manage to defeat the Jaguars and move to 7-2 on the season. Though the game was anything but reassuring for Packers’ fans, a lot of what happened elsewhere around the league worked out in Green Bay’s favor. With the Bears falling to the Vikings, the Packers now have a three-game lead in the loss column on every single team in the NFC North, and with Drew Brees expected to miss some time, the Packers are in the driver’s seat for the NFC’s number one seed.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Prev: 7)
Ronald Jones set the Bucs’ record for the longest touchdown run in franchise history when he scampered 98 yards against the Panthers on Sunday. His touchdown was just one of five for Tampa Bay, who followed up last week’s horrid performance against the Saints with an absolute beatdown of the Panthers. They outgained Carolina 544-187 as they won 46-23 to move to 7-3 on the season.
3) New Orleans Saints (Prev: 4)
The Saints took care of the 49ers very easily, but they will likely be without Drew Brees for quite some time after he suffered fractured ribs and a collapsed lung on Sunday. The good news is that their next four games are against teams with losing records, so if Brees misses a month, they will still likely be favored in all games until they play Kansas City in Week 15.
2) Kansas City Chiefs (Prev: 2)
The Chiefs were off this week, and they will have a big matchup next week in Las Vegas against the Raiders. A win there would all but solidify the Chiefs’ AFC West crown, but a loss would make things very interesting as the season winds down.
1) Pittsburgh Steelers (Prev: 1)
The Steelers are the first team in the league to secure a winning record, as they moved to 9-0 by destroying the Bengals 36-10. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and the defense turned Cincinnati over twice. With the Ravens falling to the Patriots, the Steelers now have a three-game lead in the division with seven games remaining.
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Phil Wood is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Phil, check out his archive and follow him @Phil_Wood_Jr.