Updated 2017 NFL Playoff Picture Heading Into Week 8

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

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It may not feel like it, but we’re already seven weeks into the 2017 NFL campaign. Now that we’re getting into the meat of the season, we’re starting to watch the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. As we can see by the current NFL playoff picture, though, there are still some surprise teams trying to book a trip to the postseason.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the field would look like if the NFL playoffs began today. Week 8 may mark what’s essentially the midway point of the season, but there’s plenty more to learn with 10 weeks of action still set to unfold.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 8 Denver Broncos (3-3)
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The Denver Broncos‘ steady descent continues after their third-straight loss. It hasn’t been pretty for this team, which continues to watch injuries and ineffective offensive play keep them from adding another tally mark to the win column. They’re still hanging on by a thread, but three straight games against fellow contenders could spell disaster for their playoff hopes.

Just Missed the Cut: AFC No. 7 Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)
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Things have gotten interesting in the AFC South, as the Jacksonville Jaguars are currently right in the middle of the hunt for the division crown. Although they’ve hit some bumps in the road, they look like a team capable of booking a trip to the postseason. Getting Leonard Fournette back after he sat out in Week 7 will help their chances down the stretch.

AFC No. 6 Miami Dolphins (4-2)
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For the better part of this season, I’ve been convinced the Miami Dolphins weren’t for real. While a win against the New York Jets hasn’t exactly convinced me, I’m starting to lose some of the skepticism. Still, the offense has been inconsistent at best and the loss of Jay Cutler may or may not hinder that. We’ll see if they can keep it going in Week 8.

AFC No. 5 Buffalo Bills (4-2)
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The Buffalo Bills came out of nowhere this season to make themselves a contender in head coach Sean McDermott‘s first season in town. The defense has responded well, and playmakers like Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy and finding ways to put points on the board. If they can keep pulling off surprising wins, we’ll see them playing in January.

AFC No. 4 Tennessee Titans (4-3)
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It’s been a bumpy road to 4-3 for the Tennessee Titans. They’ve had some outstanding wins, but have also been dominated on a couple of occasions. It’s essentially a tale of two teams — just look at how difficult it was for them to keep the Cleveland Browns winless in Week 7. If they’re going to keep their hold on the AFC South, they must improve on both sides of the ball ASAP.

AFC No. 3 New England Patriots (5-2)
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Despite their No. 3 seeding in the AFC, the New England Patriots still seem like the team to beat in that conference. Tom Brady has put his GOAT-level skills on display all season long, helping to make up for one of the league’s worst defenses. Despite those defensive shortcomings, expect the Patriots to be in the Super Bowl discussion throughout the rest of the season.

AFC No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
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Believe it or not, the Kansas City Chiefs are no longer proud owners of the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Two straight losses has them reeling a bit, although they’re nowhere near out of the race. The offense has still been explosive at times, and the defense is full of playmakers. A win against the Broncos in Week 8 would help them right the ship.

AFC No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
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Apart from a couple of unexpected losses, the Pittsburgh Steelers have looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2017. Now that the offense is hitting its stride, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown should have little trouble plowing through the rest of their schedule. As long as the defense keeps making big plays, the Steelers will be a forced to be reckoned with during the postseason.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 8 Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
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After a three-game skid, the Atlanta Falcons are quickly falling into do-or-die territory. The offense has looked hollow this season, likely a result of the departure of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Luckily for the Falcons, they have the talent to get the job done. Look for Matt Ryan to kick it into gear in Week 8 and get Atlanta back in the race.

Just Missed the Cut: NFC No. 7 Carolina Panthers (4-3)
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After a disastrous loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 7, the Carolina Panthers find themselves on the outside looking in. Cam Newton hasn’t looked right this season, and the offense as a whole hasn’t been able to gain much traction. The Carolina defense has kept this team afloat in 2017, but isn’t going to carry it to the playoffs if the offense keeps playing like this.

NFC No. 6 Green Bay Packers (4-3)
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The Green Bay Packers are still in the picture because of Aaron Rodgers‘ efforts early in the year. With his broken collarbone keeping him out of the lineup, though, the Packers could quickly fall away. They’ve now dropped two games in a row, and Brett Hundley doesn’t appear to be the answer. It’s looking like Green Bay is scheduled for an early vacation barring a miracle.

NFC No. 5 Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
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The Seattle Seahawks are somewhat lucky to be in this situation right now. If it wasn’t for their elite defense, they likely wouldn’t even be in the picture. The offense has been subpar, as a lackluster running game and injury-plagued offensive line have put all of the burden on Russell Wilson. If the offense can improve, though, the Seahawks have the potential to be a contender in 2017.

NFC No. 4 New Orleans Saints (4-2)
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I had no idea the New Orleans Saints would be in this position coming into the 2017 season. Then again, I’m not sure many folks outside of the Big Easy did. And yet, here they are thanks to an explosive, well-rounded offense and an opportunistic defense. As long as Drew Brees under center, the Saints will be a serious threat in the NFC South.

NFC No. 3 Los Angeles Rams (5-2)
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The Los Angeles Rams continue to flourish under new head coach Sean McVay. Now coming off a complete destruction of the Arizona Cardinals, it’s safe to say they’re for real. The young offensive duo of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are playing excellent football, and the Los Angeles defense is getting the job done. The NFC West crown is within reach.

NFC No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
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Another week and another win for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that suddenly looks like a contender heading into Week 8. They taken down some quality teams along the way, but still must prove they can handle other contenders before we start talking Super Bowls for the Vikings. For now, though, the wins should keep coming with the Browns up next.

NFC No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
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After their Monday night win against the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles find themselves with the best record in the NFL. It’s been a strong season for this franchise, which has watched Carson Wentz blossom into a star. If the sophomore quarterback to keep playing at this level, the Eagles could be the team to beat in the NFC.