Updated 2017 NFL Playoff Picture Heading Into Week 6

Here's what the field would look like if the 2017 NFL Playoffs were to begin today.

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Five weeks of the 2017 NFL season are officially in the books. Now that we’re getting into the meat of the regular season, the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pretenders. As we can see by the current NFL playoff picture, though, there are still some interesting, unexpected clubs pushing for a postseason berth.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the playoff field would look like if the NFL playoffs began today. It’s only Week 6, but there’s a lot we’ve already learned this season and plenty more to learn with 12 weeks of gridiron action still to be played.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 8 New England Patriots (3-2)
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Believe it or not, the New England Patriots would not be headed to the postseason if it began today. While they have the same record as the New York Jets, they haven’t won a divisional matchup. As a result, they’re on the outside looking in. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFL, the playoffs don’t start today — Tom Brady and Co. will get there one way or another before all 16 games are played.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 7 Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
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It’s been a tale of two units for the Baltimore Ravens in 2017. On the offensive end, they’ve had the most difficult time getting anything going. While numerous injuries haven’t helped, Joe Flacco and Co. simply can’t get it going. The Ravens’ near-elite defense has helped them stay in the hunt, though. In the end, I believe their lack of firepower does them in, but they’re still alive as we head into Week 6.

AFC No. 6 New York Jets (3-2)
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Wow. Coming into the season, the Jets were assumed to be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick next April. Instead, we find them in the middle of the playoff race as we head into Week 6. The defense has done its job on Sundays, while the offense has done just enough to stay alive. As the season rolls along and tougher matchups present themselves, New York figures to fall out of favor.

AFC No. 5 Denver Broncos (3-1)
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The Denver Broncos have been quite the surprise this season, especially considering the concern at quarterback heading into September. Trevor Siemian quickly quieted doubters, putting up some outstanding performances to start the year. The reason to truly be worried about the Broncos in 2017, though, is their defense, which has been an impenetrable wall through the first four games.

AFC No. 4 Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
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Much like the Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been rather inconsistent this season. They’ve taken down a couple of quality teams in Baltimore and the Minnesota Vikings, but dropped a close one against the Chicago Bears and got blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers have the talent to make a run, but need Ben Roethlisberger to get his act together after an awful showing in Week 5.

AFC No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)
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One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 campaign, the Jaguars have actually looked like a contender through five games. Yes, they struggled against the Tennessee Titans and Jets, have boast big wins against the Steelers, Ravens and Houston Texans. Especially with the way the AFC South is trending right now, Jacksonville stands a good chance of taking the division crown if Blake Bortles doesn’t crumble under the pressure.

AFC No. 2 Buffalo Bills (3-2)
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When the season kicked off almost a month ago, I didn’t give the Buffalo Bills the slightest of chances of making the playoffs. Now, we find them in possession of the No. 2 seed heading into Week 6. While there’s still plenty of football left to be played, the Buffalo defense has been a revelation this year, helping them to an impressive start to the year. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy have also helped keep them in contention.

AFC No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
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Through the first five weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs have been completely unstoppable. They’re the only undefeated team remaining, and for good reason. Alex Smith is having a career year, and rookie running back Kareem Hunt has emerged as the league’s next dynamic runner. Tie in the Chiefs’ bend-but-don’t-break defense, and you’ve got the recipe for a legitimate contender in 2017.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 8 Minnesota Vikings
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After Week 1, the rest of the NFL was on notice about the Vikings. Sam Bradford had put on a clinic, and Dalvin Cook was looking like an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Then, both got hurt and it’s been a bumpy ride for the Vikings since. Case Keenum has held it together on offense, and the Minnesota defense is looking elite as expected. Their upcoming schedule, though, could make securing a playoff spot difficult.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 7 Los Angeles Rams
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Boom! Yet another surprising success story. The Los Angeles Rams weren’t expected to make much noise this season, but that didn’t stop them from putting themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt. While they’re currently on the outside looking in, they’ve been competitive in all five games so far. If Sean McVay can continue to work his magic on Jared Goff, the Rams could still be playing come January.

NFC No. 6 Detroit Lions (3-2)
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It hasn’t all been great for the Detroit Lions this season. After a strong start to the season, they’ve dropped a couple against quality teams — something that Matthew Stafford has routinely been criticized for. Still, between their high-octane offense and playmaking defense, the Lions should stay within striking distance of the playoffs throughout the entire 2017 campaign. For now, they have a flimsy hold on the sixth seed.

NFC No. 5 Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
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There hasn’t been much negative to say about the Atlanta Falcons so far this season. They dropped a tough one to the Bills before their Week 5 bye, but should come back strong against the Miami Dolphins. Matt Ryan picked up where he left off from last year, and the loss of Kyle Shanahan hasn’t slowed the offense. If the defense can continue to improve, the Falcons could be a true Super Bowl contender.

NFC No. 4 Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
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While they may be the fourth seed in the NFC right now, I haven’t been impressed with the Seattle Seahawks through five weeks. They’ve put together some pitiful performances, and own two less-than-impressive wins against subpar teams. If they’re going to make noise during the postseason, Russell Wilson needs to get it together and the Seahawks defense needs to play up to its full potential.

NFC No. 3 Carolina Panthers (4-1)
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Despite some close calls, the Carolina Panthers keep coming out on the winning end. They’ve relied heavily on their defense to earn W’s, but are finally starting to see some life from the offense as well. If they’re going to stay in position to make the playoffs, Cam Newton must find his 2015 form. Getting more of the offensive weapons, like Christian McCaffrey, involved would help as well.

NFC No. 2 Green Bay Packers (4-1)
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It’s the Aaron Rodgers show in Wisconsin in 2017, as it is most years. The Green Bay Packers have been leaning heavily on their superstar gunslinger, and he’s delivered week after week. My only concern is that, eventually, Rodgers is going to run out of steam — especially against other top contenders. For now, though, this Packers team has the makings of a squad ready to make a run at the Super Bowl.

NFC No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)
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I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Philadelphia Eagles this year. I knew they’d be good, but I honestly didn’t expect them to be sitting atop the NFC heading into Week 6. The offense has been nearly unstoppable as Carson Wentz continues his ascension, and the Philadelphia defense is doing its usual thing of making big plays to counteract the yards allowed. This recipe is working, so don’t expect to change anytime soon.