Week 10 is here, meaning there are only two months left in 2020 NFL regular season. Every win becomes more important in trying to lock down division titles or wild-card berths to get into the playoffs.
With the postseaon field expanded by one team each in the AFC and the NFC to a total of 14, that brings more teams into realistic contention over the final eight weeks. Based on the current standings, here’s an updated look at what each conference tournament would look like if the playoffs started now:
NFL MOCK DRAFT 2021:
Jets finish tank for Trevor Lawrence; Patriots, Falcons, Vikings pass on QBs
NFL standings for Week 10
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0), first place, AFC North. The Steelers survived the Cowboys in an NFC matchup to stay undefeated. They will look to extend their lead for the lone bye and home-field advantage to a full game against the Chiefs by beating the Bengals. In the short-term, a loss puts them behind the Chiefs, whom they don’t play, because the Chiefs would have a better conference record.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs get a well-deserved bye before a tough closing schedule. They start by playing the Raiders, to whom they lost, on the road. The Chiefs also will travel to the Buccaneers, Saints and Dolphins. It will be probably come down to the wire for the No. 1 seed between them and the Steelers.
3. Buffalo Bills (7-2), first place, AFC East. The Bills got a big NFC win over the Seahawks and will look for another agianst the Cardinals. They lead the Dolphins by 1.5 games and the Patriots by 3.5 games. They did lose to the Chiefs and Titans, which will hurt in seeding as likely division champions. They also get a shot at the Steelers at home in Week 14.
4. Tennessee Titans (6-2), first place, AFC South. The Titans hold this lead by a game over the Colts, but they will lose it on an initial tiebreaker should they lose Thursday night in the first of two head-to-head matchups. The Titans’ losses have come to the Steelers and Bengals in recent weeks, but they beat the Bills and do not play the Chiefs.
5. Baltimore Ravens (6-2), second place, AFC North. The Ravens are two full games behind the Steelers plus the initial head-to-head tiebreaker. But they have key wins over the Browns and Colts in trying to secure the top wild card. They do play the Titans and still have rematches with the Steelers and Browns, but they do not play either the Raiders or Dolphins.
6. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3), second place, AFC West. The Raiders hold this second wild-card spot because of having the best conference record (3-2) vs. the three teams behind them. They beat the Browns and also get key direct shots at home against the Colts (Week 14) and Dolphins (Week 16) in December.
7. Miami Dolphins (5-3), second place, AFC East. The Dolphins have this spot with a better conference record (2-2) than either the Browns or Colts, who each have three AFC losses. They have a pretty favorable schedule outside of that Raiders game in Week 16 but have brutal bookends in the final month with the Chiefs (Week 14) and Bills (Week 17).
Who can get there?
8. Cleveland Browns (5-3)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
The Browns beat the Colts to hold the tiebreaker here but lost to the Raiders and don’t play the Dolphins. The Colts have a bad conference record (2-3), so they need to try to win the division over the Titans. Their Raiders matchup in Week 14 may become a must-win.
Who’s likely out?
10. Denver Broncos (3-5)
11. New England Patriots (3-5)
12. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
13. Los Angeles Chargers (2-6)
14. Houston Texans (2-6)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)
16. New York Jets (0-9)
The grouping of the four solid 5-3 teams doesn’t bode well for the Broncos or Patriots, two games behind with very tough schedules ahead. The Bengals have the three games against the bottom of the NFC East, but two Steelers dates and one with the Dolphins counters that. The Chargers can keep thinking about what might have been with all their close losses, while the Texans have likely dug themselves too deep of a hole.
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. New Orleans Saints (6-2), first place, NFC South. The Saints’ sparkling conference record (5-1) gives them this tiebreaker over the Seahawka and Packers. If this was a two-way tie, however, the Saints would be behind the Packers, to whom they suffered that lone NFC loss at home, but still ahead of the Seahawks.
2. Seattle Seahawks (6-2), first place, NFC West. The Seahawks are 4-1 in the conference, while the Packers have two NFC losses to the Buccaneers and Vikings. A loss to the Rams would put them in second place in the division and maybe third, if the Cardinals, who beat them, also win.
3. Green Bay Packers (6-2), first place, NFC North. The Packers hold a solid 1.5-game lead over the Bears, who are fading and whom the Packers still play twice. They should root for Seahawks and Buccaneers to fade so they can work to win home-field advantage over the Saints.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1), first place, NFC East. The Eagles will pull away and win the division in the second half after their Week 9 bye. They will not finish higher or lower than this seed and can be a dangerous playoff spoiler to the three teams above and the one right below.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) second place, NFC South. The Buccaneers blew a big opportunity to become the division and conference front-runners against the Saints. Now they need to finish a full game ahed of the Saints, to whom they lost twice, to take the South. They still are in strong shape to fall back on one of the three wild cards.
6. Arizona Cardinals (5-3), second place, NFC West. The Cardinals would be in first place after Week 10 if they beat the Bills and the Rams beat the Seahawks. They are 2-0 in division play, the best mark in the West if both the Rams and Seahawks should also be 6-3. If they lose to the Bills, they could fall out of playoff position, depending on what the Rams and Bears do.
7. Los Angeles Rams (5-3), third place, NFC West. The Rams can jump into first place with a win over the Seahawks and a Cardinals loss. They can also fall out of the final wild-card position with a loss and a Bears win.
Who can get there?
8. Chicago Bears (5-4)
9. San Francisco 49ers (4-5)
10. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
The Bears playing the Vikings on Monday night turns out to be a bigger game than expected. With a win to get to 6-4, the Bears would be back in playoff position if either the Cardinals or Rams lose. The Vikings could make a big move back toward contention by beating the Bears, especally if both the Cardinals and Rams lose. The 49ers desperately need to win something, despite their injuries, with a difficult slate ahead, starting with the Sants.
Who’s likely out?
11. Detroit Lions (3-5)
12. Atlanta Falcons (3-6)
13. Carolina Panthers (3-6)
14. Washington Football Team (2-6)
15. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
16. New York Giants (2-7)
The Lions have the same record as the Vikings, but they just lost to them and are headed to a fade with a bad schedule from Week 13 to 17. The Falcons and Panthers have zero margin for error as extremely flawed teams. That awful NFC East trio should focus more on the draft behind the Eagles.