Updated 2017 NFL Playoff Picture Heading Into Week 11

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

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Where have the last few months gone? It doesn’t seem like it, but we’re already midway through the 2017 NFL campaign. Now that the postseason is finally within sight, we’ve gotten a clearer idea of which teams will be alive during the postseason. As we can see in the updated NFL playoff picture following Week 10, though, this season has unfolded exactly how no one expected it to.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the field would look like if the NFL playoffs began ahead of Week 11. Even with more than half the season in the rear-view mirror, 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 Oakland Raiders (4-5)
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The Oakland Raiders are doing their best to stay alive in the playoff race. At one point, they appeared to be down for the count, but have bounced back with two wins in their last three outings. Derek Carr is starting to play like his 2016 self, although the defense is still a major concern. I liked the Raiders heading into the season, but it’s looking like this team has too many holes to make a legitimate run at the postseason.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 7 Baltimore Ravens (4-5)
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I don’t know if this is a comment on the Baltimore Ravens‘ ability to hang around, or the lack of other top teams in the AFC. Somehow, they’re still hanging around on the fringes of the NFL playoff picture. They’ve put together some strong performances, but have also been destroyed on a couple of separate occasions. The only reason the Ravens are still in play is their defense, which has been elite at times in 2017.

AFC No. 6 Buffalo Bills (5-4)
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Not long ago, the Buffalo Bills were looking like a serious threat in the AFC. Now, after two straight losses (including a blowout), it’s unclear what type of competitiveness they can bring to the playoffs. The defense has waned in effectiveness, and the offense still struggles to put consistent points on the board. The Bills have the talent to concern other contenders, but need to refinement their approach moving forward.

AFC No. 5 Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)
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Despite their various struggles this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to compile wins. They’ve had some close calls throughout the 2017 campaign, but still find themselves pushing for the AFC South crown at 6-3. It’s scary to think the Jaguars are pinning their playoff hopes on Blake Bortles and a rookie running back, but the defense is doing enough to help this team compete well into January.

AFC No. 4 Tennessee Titans (6-3)
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After a rough start to their 2017 season, the Tennessee Titans got back on track in the form of a four-game winning streak. They haven’t all been very impressive, but a win is a win. Marcus Mariota is having another strong season, and the defense is doing its best to create turnovers at a consistent clip. I’m not sure if the Titans have what it takes to topple the AFC’s other division leaders, but the playoffs appear to be in their future.

AFC No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
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The Kansas City Chiefs looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender to begin the season. Unfortunately, at this moment, their reeling a bit. They’ve lost three of their last four, and need to start stringing together some wins to gain some momentum. Coming off a bye, the Chiefs face a terrific matchup with the miserable New York Giants that should help them get back on track.

AFC No. 2 New England Patriots (7-2)
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Riding a five-game winning streak, the New England Patriots currently look like one of two teams to beat in the AFC. Tom Brady is doing his usual thing, although it actually seems like he’s getting even better (if that’s even possible) with age. This team is starting to click, and should improve even more in the coming weeks. It’s not going to be easy for any team to oust Brady and the Patriots at this point.

AFC No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)
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Week 10 was a nervous one for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who narrowly overcame a miserable Indianapolis Colts team. Still, they got the win and retained the spot atop the AFC. The offense is still firing on all cylinders and the defense has been making big plays when it matters most. As long as players like Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell can stay healthy, the Steelers will be the other team to beat in the AFC.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 8 Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
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It looked like the Dallas Cowboys were beginning to pick up steam. Then, it all came crashing down on Sunday, when the absence of Tyron Smith did them in. The Cowboys need to figure out ways to live without Smith (if he misses more games) and Ezekiel Elliott, or they’ll be going on an early vacation. The talent is there, but adjustments must be made before Dallas falls too far behind.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 7 Atlanta Falcons (5-4)
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It was starting to look ugly for the Atlanta Falcons, who took a terrible tumble after starting 3-0. Then, they bounced back in a big way in Week 10, using their defense to make a mockery of the Cowboys. The Falcons are going to need more than a win against an offense missing a couple of its best players to get to the postseason, but the talent is absolutely there for this team to flip the switch down the stretch.

NFC No. 6 Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
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We all know what this Seattle Seahawks team is capable of. Unfortunately, we don’t always see the full potential of this team on a weekly basis. Now, they’ll have to move forward without one of their best players in Richard Sherman (ruptured Achilles). Russell Wilson is more than capable of carrying this squad deep into the playoffs, but the team’s overall consistency must improve if that’s going to happen.

NFC No. 5 Carolina Panthers (7-3)
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After an up-and-down start to the season, the Carolina Panthers seem to have discovered some stability. They’ve now secured three wins in a row, and are staying on the heels of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. It’s going to take more than a league-best defense to make noise during the postseason. This Carolina offense must get better if they plan on going anywhere beyond the Wild Card round.

NFC No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
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Arguably the biggest surprise of the 2017 campaign, the Los Angeles Rams just keep racking up wins. They’ve now tallied four in a row, and are doing it in dominant fashion. The Rams have scored the most points in the league through 10 weeks, and have the latest point margin (+134). The arrival of Sean McVay has brought out the best in this entire roster, which should help them make serious noise during the postseason.

NFC No. 3 New Orleans Saints (7-2)
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The wins just keep coming for the Saints, who have now racked up seven in a row. They’ve evolved into one of the most dynamic teams in the league, possessing a dynamic offense and opportunistic defense. As long as Drew Brees, Mark Ingram and the rest of the Saints’ stars can keep producing at this pace, they’ll be a threat for the NFC crown.

NFC No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
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The owners of an impressive five-game winning streak, the Minnesota Vikings continue to shine on Sundays. They came into their Week 10 matchup with the Washington Redskins with question marks, but walked away with yet another W. Whether it’s Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater under center, the Vikings figure to make noise during the postseason with the way they’ve been playing.

NFC No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
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The Philadelphia Eagles had a bye this week, so they’ll be well rested for the final stretch of the 2017 campaign. Based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s little reason to believe they’ll be enjoying a first-round bye during the playoffs. Carson Wentz is having a breakout year, and the Philadelphia defense is doing its part to keep the Eagles in the win column.