Updated 2017 NFL Playoff Picture Heading Into Week 10

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

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It seems like the season has flown by, because we’re already midway through the 2017 NFL campaign. Now that the postseason is finally within sight, we’ve begun to see some of the contenders emerge from the pack. As we can see based on the updated NFL playoff picture following Week 9, though, there are still some unexpected teams trying to extend their seasons into January.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the field would look like if the NFL playoffs began ahead of Week 10. Even with half of the season now in the books, there’s still plenty of football left to be played and more for us to learn about this year’s top contenders.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 8 Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
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Even though the Baltimore Ravens keep hanging around in the NFL playoff picture, they aren’t taking that next step. They continue to lose the games they desperately need to win, as their offense simply can’t get it done on a weekly basis. Joe Flacco has lost his confidence, and I don’t think the Ravens defense has enough juice to carry this team into the postseason.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 7 Miami Dolphins (4-4)
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Much like the Ravens, I’m surprised the Miami Dolphins are still in the picture. Despite winning half of their games, they’ve been a hot mess this season — especially on the offensive end. They should hang up a couple more wins before the year is over, but I don’t see the Dolphins earning a trip to the postseason when all is said and done.

AFC No. 6 Buffalo Bills (5-3)
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Despite their disappointing loss to the New York Jets on Thursday, the Buffalo Bills still seem like a legitimate threat in the AFC. The offense isn’t spectacular, but has a few weapons worth taking seriously. The defense has been outstanding this season, doing a great job of bending without breaking. My only concern is whether or not Tyrod Taylor is talented enough to carry the Bills well into January.

AFC No. 5 Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
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The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to prove that they’re worth taking seriously in 2017. Coming off another impressive win against the Cincinnati Bengals, they’ve kept pace in the AFC South race and seem to have their eyes set on their first playoff appearance since 2007. With Leonard Fournette back in the mix moving forward, I would assume it’s only going to get more difficult to defeat the Jaguars.

AFC No. 4 Tennessee Titans (5-3)
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Honestly, it’s slightly surprising the Tennessee Titans currently sit atop the AFC South. Despite their 5-3 record, they’ve put together some ugly performances this season. Heck, it took them a bunch of field goals and overtime to knock off the winless Cleveland Browns. Still, they’ve racked up the wins and that’s what matters in the end. If they can buckle down on defense and be more consistent on offense, the Titans will be worth taking seriously come January.

AFC No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
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After getting off to a hot start, the Kansas City Chiefs have quickly become the Atlanta Falcons of the AFC. They’ve lost three of their last four games, and are only hanging on because of the rest of the AFC West has underwhelmed this season. If they’re going to make the most of the immense potential they showed through the first five weeks, they need to right the ship now. A Week 10 bye should help them regroup before a late-season push for a first-round bye.

AFC No. 2 New England Patriots (6-2)
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After a few weeks, it seemed like the New England Patriots inevitable decline had begun. Now, after four straight wins, it’s looking like that was a premature thought. Tom Brady is killing it still despite being the league’s oldest quarterback. The defense is still a major liability, but has obviously done enough in recent weeks to compliment Brady and the New England offense. As long as No. 12 is under center, the Patriots will be a legitimate threat.

AFC No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
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The class of the AFC right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the makings of a serious Super Bowl contender. Not only is the defense playing well, but the offense is among the most explosive in the leauge. Ben Roethlisberger is shredding opposing secondaries seemingly at will, while Le’Veon Bell is continuing to prove why he’s the league’s best back. As long as this team stays healthy down the stretch, we should be seeing them in the AFC Championship game.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 8 Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
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As I alluded to earlier, the Falcons’ 2017 campaign has been a tale of two quarters. Through the first quarter of the season, they appeared to have picked up right where they left off during last year’s Super Bowl run. Then, they lost four of their last five to put themselves on the outside of the NFL playoff picture. It’s going to take a big push in the second half of the season to book a trip to the postseason, especially in the suddenly deadly NFC South.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 7 Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
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Who would have guessed the Seattle Seahawks would be chasing the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West crown at this point in the season? Well that’s the situation, and a Week 9 loss actually has the Seahawks sitting outside the playoff picture at this moment. It’s not an ideal position for this team, which faced lofty expectations coming into the year. Can Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom get this team back on track in the coming weeks?

NFC No. 6 Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
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Based on how the Dallas Cowboys are playing right now, it’s surprising they’d be in line for the sixth seed. The offense has been unstoppable in recent weeks, with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott summoning the same magic they displayed throughout their 2016 rookie campaigns. The defense, while nowhere near elite, has seen an uptick in pass rushing presence that has allowed them to flourish as well. As long as something doesn’t break in the coming weeks, they stand a good chance of making the playoffs.

NFC No. 5 Carolina Panthers (6-3)
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Despite some ugly efforts, the Carolina Panthers keep winning. They may not pose a serious threat to the New Orleans Saints considering their lackluster offense, but Cam Newton is doing just enough to keep placing tallies in the win column. Realistically, though, it’s the Carolina defense that’s keep them afloat this season. As long as the Panthers can keep coming away with the win in close games, they’ll make their way into the playoffs.

NFC No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
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Oh man! What a pleasant surprise the Rams have been in 2017. They’re dominating folks with their suddenly elite offense, as Jared Goff has gone from rookie bust to breakout star. The defense is still a work in progress, but there are plenty of playmakers (like Aaron Donald) on that side of the ball as well. They currently own the second-highest scoring offense, so expect plenty more fireworks to fly before the Rams’ season is over.

NFC No. 3 Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
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I don’t think many folks expected the Minnesota Vikings to be sitting at 6-2 at this point in the season. We all knew their defense would be terrific, but no one could have guessed their offense would have been this efficient. The offensive line has held up well, and they’ve even gotten decent quarterback play despite Sam Bradford‘s early exit. Now we’ll need to see if they can maintain their momentum after their Week 9 bye — they fell apart after their bye last season.

NFC No. 2 New Orleans Saints (6-2)
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It’s been quite the show watching this New Orleans Saints team turn into a juggernaut this season. After an 0-2 start, they’ve notched six straight wins to put them atop the NFC South and in position to make the playoffs for the first time in four years. Drew Brees has been on fire, and the backfield duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has been destroying opposing defenses. The defense is holding up well too, which could allow the Saints to make a deep playoff run come January.

NFC No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
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It’s been a dream season for the Philadelphia Eagles, who currently own the league’s best record. They’ve been cruising to wins as of late, with Carson Wentz enjoying a breakout season as the team’s offensive leader. The defense is also doing its job, creating turnovers at a consistent clip and living in opposing backfields. Barring some big-name injury or a complete midseason meltdown, we’ll be seeing the Eagles playing in the postseason.