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Examining the NFL playoff picture after an eventful Week 10

Examining the NFL playoff picture after an eventful Week 10

Kirk Cousins vs Bills
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) escapes pressure by Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) to throw a pass in the fourth quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we’re 10 weeks into the season, it’s time to start looking at the NFL playoff picture.

Obviously, it’s too soon to think about teams clinching a playoff spot or predicting the NFL playoff bracket. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at the NFL playoff picture right now or take notice of the playoff teams heading into Week 11.

NFL Playoff picture after Week 10

Keep in mind that Thanksgiving is almost here, so the stretch run is upon us.

A lot has changed since the preseason Super Bowl odds came out. Even if a lot can still change with regard to the NFL playoff standings, let’s see where things stand now by taking a closer look at the postseason picture after Week 10.

AFC locks

Somewhat predictably, the Chiefs have started to separate themselves from the pack in the AFC, getting to 7-2 on the heels of three straight wins. However, it’d be unfair to elevate the Chiefs ahead of everyone else in the AFC without mentioning the Dolphins, who also have seven wins.

In fact, Miami remains unbeaten in games when Tua Tagovailoa has been healthy enough to start and finish the game.

Meanwhile, the Titans are starting to look like a lock to make the playoffs. But that’s primarily because the rest of the AFC South is bad. Even the Colts have struggled this season while the Jags and Texans have predictably buried themselves. Tennessee is flawed, but with six wins in seven games after starting 0-2, the Titans look poised to coast to a division title for the third straight year.

Finally, despite back-to-back losses, the Bills still look like a safe bet to get to the playoffs. Even after those two losses, they still have the best point differential in the AFC by a wide margin.

AFC contenders

If those four teams end up making the playoffs, that leaves five teams to battle it out for the three remaining playoff spots. Either the Ravens or Bengals will get one of those spots, as they fight it out in the AFC North.

Of course, both teams should be able to push for a Wild Card spot if they don’t win the division. 

Two of the biggest surprises in the AFC this year are the Jets and the Patriots. New England looked dead in the water after starting 1-3. But Bill Belichick has figured it out, guiding the Patriots to four wins in their last five games, making them a legitimate playoff contender.

Meanwhile, the Jets are currently tied with Buffalo at 6-3, making them a genuine contender. The jury remains out on Zach Wilson, but Gang Green looks solid defensively and has gone 4-0 on the road this season. The Eagles are the only other team in the NFL playoff picture that’s currently unbeaten on the road.

Finally, the 5-4 Chargers are surely alive in the playoff race. They’ve benefited from the Broncos and Raiders both having disappointing seasons. They’ll have to win some tough games down the stretch, which is something they’ve struggled to do thus far in 2022.

But after being in the playoff hunt heading into Week 18 last season, the Chargers look to be in contention until the end of this season as well.

NFC locks

With identical 8-1 records, the Eagles and Vikings both look like locks to get to the playoffs. The Vikings, in particular, are running away with the NFC North, allowing Minnesota to secure a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have the Cowboys and Giants hot on their trail, especially after suffering their first loss of the season. Even if a playoff spot looks like a safe bet, a division title is far from a given.

Speaking of the Giants and Cowboys, they appear to be close to locks in the NFL playoff picture. Behind Micah Parsons, who has some of the top DPOY odds, the Dallas defense has the Cowboys well-positioned for a playoff spot.

The same is true for the Giants, who are 6-2 behind Saquon Barkley and a solid defense. Nothing is a sure thing just yet, but given the weakness in the NFC Wild Card race, the Cowboys and Giants surely have a leg up.

NFC contenders

There could be a handful of teams in the NFC that aren’t serious contenders, but most of the conference is still alive. Even 4-6 teams like the Packers and Falcons are only 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot.

Meanwhile, the 5-5 Commanders are very much in the hunt, as they are just half a game behind San Francisco for the final playoff spot despite being last in the NFC East.

There are two divisions that remain wide open. Behind Kenneth Walker and his surging OROY odds, the Seahawks have climbed to the top of the NFC West. But the 49ers are just half a game behind them after winning back-to-back games. San Francisco has a quality defense and acquired Christian McCaffrey at the trade deadline to give their offense a boost. Even the 4-6 Cardinals and 3-6 Rams aren’t completely out of the NFC West race just yet.

Things are also tight and too close to call in the NFC South, where no team has a winning record. Tom Brady and the Bucs were heavy favorites at the start of the season and have finally pulled back into first place on the heels of back-to-back wins to get to 5-5.

However, the Falcons have shown plenty of fight and are just one game behind Tampa at 4-6. Finally, the Panthers and Saints are both 3-7, giving them slim playoff odds. However, they are just two games behind Tampa with seven games left to play, giving both teams a fighting chance coming down the stretch.