Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: Week 10

Mark Menard
November 06, 2018 - 12:46 pm

Thanks to a big win over the Rams, the Saints made the biggest power play this week, a move that could move them to the head of the NFC... but not just yet. Read on to learn how the playoff picture breaks down as we pass the halfway point of the season.


AFC North


1) Pittsburgh got even with 3) Baltimore, winning to earn a split in the season series. 4) Cleveland got blasted at home by the Chiefs. 2) Cincinnati sat at home on their bye week.


#1 Pittsburgh (5-2-1), #2 Cincinnati (5-3), #3 Baltimore (4-5), #4 Cleveland (2-6-1)

The Steelers’ divisional win over the Ravens ensured that they’ll have a winning record against AFC North opponents, giving them a win over each of their three divisional foes and avenged their only divisional loss. It also may have relegated the North to a two-team race as the Steelers lead the Ravens by three games in the loss column. They hold a four-game lead in the loss column over the Browns.

Cincinnati of course sits well within striking distance, just a half-game back of the divisional lead. Baltimore trails overall by 2 games with Cleveland sitting 3.5 games back.


Pittsburgh hosts Carolina on Thursday night. Cincinnati hosts New Orleans. Cleveland hosts Atlanta. Baltimore is on their bye week.


AFC West


1) Kansas City rode their two Cleveland-born stars Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce to beat down 4) Cleveland in their hometown. 2) Los Angeles won on the road in Seattle. 3) Denver missed a potential game-winning field goal to fall two points short against Houston. 4) Oakland was stomped by San Francisco.


#1 Kansas City (8-1), #2 Los Angeles (6-2), #3 Denver (3-6), #4 Oakland (1-7)

Even at 8-1, the Chiefs have precious little breathing room at the top of the West because the Chargers won their fifth straight this weekend to keep pace. KC’s advantage is their Week 1 win over the Bolts which, other than the bye week discrepancy, is the only separation between the two. They don’t play each other again until a Week 15 Thursday night date in Arrowhead Stadium, but the Chiefs’ have the more challenging schedule leading up to that matchup, highlighted by a Monday night showdown in two weeks against the Rams, while the Chargers could feast on the Raiders, Broncos, and Cardinals the next three weeks. As good as Kansas City has been all season, this race could come down to late December before its settled for good.

As for the rest of the West, while the Chargers remain 1.5 games back, Denver trails first place KC by 5 games with seven to play. Oakland is 6.5 back with eight to play. I don’t like their chances.


Los Angeles travels to Oakland in divisional action. Kansas City hosts Arizona. Denver is on their bye week.


AFC East


2) Miami got an ugly divisional win over 3) New York, riding four interceptions of Sam Darnold to victory. A pick-6 provided the seven-point margin of victory. 1) New England pulled away late from Green Bay for a sixth straight win. 4) Buffalo got blasted by the Bears.


#1 New England (7-2), #2 Miami (5-4), #3 New York (3-6), #4 Buffalo (2-7)

Much like the West, the East has turned into a two-team race with the Jets and Bills falling fast. Unlike the West, the Patriots have a bit more separation with a two-game lead over Miami, and the Fins can’t make up any ground as long as New England keeps winning. The more pressing concern for Miami though is exactly when they can get Ryan Tannehill back under center, a question they still haven’t given a straight answer to.

As it stands, Miami remains 2 games back, the Jets 4 games back, and Buffalo sits 5 games out of first.


New York hosts Buffalo in divisional action. New England travels to Tennessee. Miami travels to Green Bay.


AFC South


1) Houston escaped Denver with a two-point win on a late Broncos field goal miss. 2) Tennessee beat down Dallas on the road. 3) Jacksonville and 4) Indianapolis both enjoyed bye weeks.


#1 Houston (6-3), #2 Tennessee (4-4), #3 Jacksonville (3-5), #4 Indianapolis (3-5)

Houston continued their roll, now having won six straight to relegate their 0-3 start to ancient history. The Titans kept pace though, getting back to .500 with a much-needed win to stay within 1.5 games of the Texans. The Jags and Colts lost a half-game each due to the bye week. Both sit 2.5 games back.

The Jaguars hold the tiebreaker for third place due to their record against common opponents shared with the Colts. Indy is 0-4 against the Patriots, Eagles, Jets and Texans while Jacksonville is 2-2 against those four. Notice the placement there of the Eagles out of the NFC. Don’t let anyone tell you that interconference games are meaningless when it comes to the playoff picture.


Indianapolis hosts Jacksonville in divisional action. Tennessee hosts New England. Houston sits out on their bye week.




#1 Kansas City (8-1), #2 New England (7-2), #3 Pittsburgh (5-2-1), #4 Houston (6-3)

All four division leaders got wins this weekend so the standings sit the same as they were last week, with the Chiefs maintaining a one-game edge over the Patriots, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker if they can pull even with KC.

Below the top two, the Steelers and Texans remain locked in a “virtual tie” that gives Pittsburgh the lead over Houston due to winning percentage. The Steelers’ win % is .688. Houston, with one more win AND one more loss, sits at .667. Both trail Kansas City for the #1 seed by 2 games.




#1 Los Angeles (6-2), #2 Cincinnati (5-3), #3 Miami (5-4), #4 Tennessee (4-4)

The Chargers’ win in Seattle ensured they’d remain at the head of the AFC’s wild-card pack, and gave them that half-game back over Cincinnati that they lost on their bye week. With the Bengals sitting idle, they now slip back to a full game behind Los Angeles but would still be in the playoffs as the second wild-card if the season ended today.

Only two other teams in the AFC sit at or above .500 for the season. Miami’s positioning proves that a win is a win, so despite everyone who watched Dolphins-Jets wanting those three hours back, it allowed the Fins to gain some ground. They sit just a half-game behind Cincinnati for the bottom wild card and a full game behind the Chargers for the wild-card lead. The Titans meanwhile returned to wild-card relevancy by getting back to .500 with a road win over the Cowboys. They sit 1 game back of the Bengals for the final wild-card spot.



#5 Baltimore (4-5), #6 Jacksonville (3-5), #7 Indianapolis (3-5), #8 New York (3-6)

#9 Denver (3-6), #10 Cleveland (2-6-1), #11 Buffalo (2-7), #12 Oakland (1-7)

A promising start for the Ravens has turned sour quickly. They’ve lost four of their last five games and three straight to plummet from 3-1 to 4-5. Coach John Harbaugh is rumored to be on a very hot seat during the upcoming bye week as Baltimore could be looking at a third straight year missing the postseason if they can’t turn things back around.

As for tiebreakers, the Jags and Colts are both winless in AFC South play so Jacksonville’s 2-3 AFC record ranks them ahead of Indy at 2-4. The 3-6 Jets get the nod over 3-6 Denver thanks to a head-to-head win in Week 6.


NFC North


2) Minnesota dropped 4) Detroit in part by dropping Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for 10 sacks. 1) Chicago whipped Buffalo. 3) Green Bay faltered late for the second straight week, losing this time to the Patriots.


#1 Chicago (5-3), #2 Minnesota (5-3-1), #3 Green Bay (3-4-1), #4 Detroit (3-5)

The Bears and Vikings remain “virtually tied,” separated only by overall winning percentage. Chicago is aided by the tie on Minnesota’s record, sitting at a winning percentage of .625 while the Vikings sit at .611. The Packers and Lions both took a step back with Green Bay now trailing the leaders by 1.5 games and Detroit sitting 2 games back.


Two divisional battles this week as Chicago hosts Detroit and Green Bay hosts Minnesota.


NFC West


The Western quadrant of the NFC caught a break this week as 1) Los Angeles was finally knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by the Saints, and yet the only team in striking distance couldn’t capitalize. 3) Arizona gained a half-game by virtue of simply sitting at home on their bye week, and 4) San Francisco made up a full game after blowing out the Raiders, but 2) Seattle didn’t gain any ground after picking up a loss of their own at the hands of the OTHER Los Angeles, the Chargers.


#1 Los Angeles (8-1), #2 Seattle (4-4), #3 Arizona (2-6), #4 San Francisco (2-7)

The Seahawks had to be kicking themselves when word arrived from New Orleans that the Rams had fallen and they realized a chance to gain ground had slipped through their talons. Seattle remains stuck 3.5 games in the Rams’ rearview mirror, with Arizona trailing by 5.5 games and the Niners a full 6 games back with just seven left to play. That means we could see our first mathematical elimination as early as next week. Excitement abounds!


Los Angeles hosts Seattle in divisional action in a game that could essentially salt away the West crown for the Rams. Arizona travels to Kansas City. San Francisco hosts the Giants on Monday night.


NFC East


1) Washington slid back towards the rest of the East with a loss to the Falcons. 3) Dallas also took a step back with a Monday night loss to the Titans. 2) Philadelphia and 4) New York sat idle on bye weeks.


#1 Washington (5-3), #2 Philadelphia (4-4), #3 Dallas (3-5), #4 New York (1-7)

The Super Bowl champs gained a half-game on the division leaders by virtue of sitting at home while Washington picked up an L. As it stands now, our nation's original capital trails Capital 2.0 by just 1 game. Dallas sits 2 games back with the Giants somewhere in the distant rear at 4 games back.


Philadelphia hosts Dallas in divisional action on Sunday night. Washington travels to Tampa Bay. New York travels to San Francisco on Monday night.


NFC South


2) Carolina got a divisional victory over 4) Tampa Bay. 1) New Orleans impressively handed the Rams their first loss of the season. 3) Atlanta likewise got a big road win at Washington.


#1 New Orleans (7-1), #2 Carolina (6-2), #3 Atlanta (4-4), #4 Tampa Bay (3-5)

The top three teams in the South all made the playoffs last year, and could very well do the same this year, now that Atlanta has somehow weathered an injury storm that would have sunk most to win three straight and work their way back to .500. Meanwhile, the Saints won a seventh straight and still maintain the slimmest of leads over the Panthers

Carolina trails New Orleans by a game. Atlanta sits 3 games back. Tampa Bay now sits 4 games back.


Carolina travels to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. New Orleans travels to Cincinnati. Atlanta travels to Cleveland. Tampa Bay hosts Washington.




#1 Los Angeles (8-1), #2 New Orleans (7-1), #3 Chicago (5-3), #4 Washington (5-3)

Week 9 may have marked a huge shift in the balance of power in the NFC after the Saints took down the Rams. New Orleans still trails L.A. by a half-game only because of a bye-week discrepancy. Los Angeles doesn’t get their bye until Week 12, so unless the Rams lose another game, the Saints will be stuck in second for three more weeks even if they keep winning. However, New Orleans now has a very important head-to-head tiebreaker in their back pocket.

Chicago and Washington both trail the Rams by 2.5 games. Chicago gets the tiebreaker with a 3-1 NFC record compared to Washington at 5-2.




#1 Carolina (6-2), #2 Minnesota (5-3-1), #3 Atlanta (4-4), #4 Seattle (4-4), #5 Philadelphia (4-4)

Carolina has won three straight and, as a result, stays out in front of the NFC wild-card chase with a game lead over every other playoff hopeful. Seattle’s loss wrests the second wild-card spot from their grip and actually allows two teams to slip past them on the wild-card ladder. Minnesota had been virtually tied with the ‘Hawks but now the Vikings sit alone in that second wild-card position, trailing the Panthers by a game for the top slot but leading all other contenders by a game.

Three teams sit knotted up at 4-4, with Atlanta returning to the fray after getting back to .500 this week. The three-way tie actually lets the Falcons race to the front of the 4-4 group despite sitting on a loss to the Eagles in the season-opener. Seattle’s presence negates that head-to-head tiebreaker and forces the three to revert to conference record, which pushes Philly to the back at 2-3, while the Falcons and Seahawks sit at 3-2. From there, we go to strength-of-victory, where the Falcons’ wins over Carolina and Washington power them to a 15-17 SOV record. The Seahawks hold no wins over teams with winning records, and their victories over Arizona and Oakland combine to drag their SOV mark to just 9-22.



#6 Green Bay (3-4-1), #7 Tampa Bay (3-5), #8 Dallas (3-5), #9 Detroit (3-5)

#10 Arizona (2-6), #11 San Francisco (2-7), #12 New York (1-7)

The three teams at 3-5 are separated first by NFC record, which knocks the Lions down to third out of the three. Detroit is just 1-4 in conference play, compared to 2-3 marks for the Bucs and Cowboys. Tampa gets the edge over Dallas because of strength-of-victory. The Bucs' SOV mark is 13-11-1 with wins over New Orleans (one of the season's great anomalies), Philadelphia and Cleveland. Dallas sits with an SOV mark of 7-17 with wins over Detroit, Jacksonville, and the Giants.

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