NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: AFC, NFC Teams Ranked after Week 10

The first 10 weeks of the NFL season are in the history books and a clearer picture of which teams could make the playoffs is beginning to emerge.

The New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens are ahead of the pack in the AFC but face a difficult stretch of games, while the race for the postseason got even tighter in the NFC after the Seattle Seahawks ended the San Francisco 49ers' unbeaten record with a 27-24 overtime win on Monday Night Football.

Here's a look at the state of play in the playoff race, based on FiveThirtyEight projections.


New England Patriots (8-1)

The Patriots entered their Week 10 bye on a losing note after suffering their first defeat of the season against Baltimore in Week 9, but an 11th consecutive divisional title remains a formality.

Holding onto top spot in the AFC, however, won't be as straightforward, as the reigning Super Bowl champions face trips to Philadelphia and Houston with home games against Dallas and Kansas City over the next four weeks.

The Patriots have capitalized on a relatively benign schedule—the easiest in the NFL so far, according to ESPN's Football Power Index—but tougher challenges await.

Baltimore Ravens (7-2)

Thanks to Lamar Jackson, Baltimore has been the talk of the NFL for the last month. It could hardly have been otherwise, as the second-year quarterback has played like an MVP-in-waiting and the Ravens' high-octane offense has torched defenses for fun—including Seattle and New England.

Baltimore remains in total control of the AFC North and could take a significant step towards one of the two top spots in the AFC with a win against Houston in Week 11.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter of the game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 10 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Silas Walker/Getty

Houston Texans (6-3)

After improving to 6-3 with a dominant win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London two weeks ago, the Texans strengthened their grip on the AFC South despite not playing in Week 10.

Miami's surprise win over Indianapolis has given Houston a one-game lead over the Colts at a very timely juncture of the season, but it's unlikely to have decided the race for the AFC South.

The Texans are beset by injuries and face the Ravens and the Patriots over the next three weeks, with a game against the Colts sandwiched in between. Expect Houston to rely on Deshaun Watson even more than usual.

Kansas City (6-4)

The Chiefs remain in charge of the AFC West but their grip is considerably looser after their 35-32 loss in Tennessee, which allowed the Oakland Raiders to close within 0.5 games.

With Patrick Mahomes back under center, Kansas City remains as offensively destructive as ever, but its defense is proving a major Achilles heel. The Chiefs face their three divisional rivals and a trip to New England over the next four weeks.

According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Chiefs have the smallest chance of a first round bye of any of the four current division leaders in the AFC.

Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Losing in Week 10 to a Cleveland team that was on a four-game losing streak slightly complicated the playoffs equation for the Bills, who retain a 55 percent chance of making the postseason.

Buffalo has made the most of a very easy schedule and with games against Dallas, New England and Baltimore still to come, the jury remains out on whether it has what it takes to seal a wildcard spot.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)

Four consecutive wins on the back of a dominant defense have turned the Steelers' season around, but the race for the final wildcard spot is as tight as ever.

Pittsburgh's win over the Colts earlier in the season and a better conference record than the Raiders currently tip the scale in its favor, but a loss to Cleveland on Thursday Night Football could change the picture.


San Francisco 49ers (8-1)

The 49ers' unbeaten record came to an end on Monday night at the hands of the Seattle Seahakws, but San Francisco retains top spot in the NFC West.

It would take a monumental collapse for the 49ers not to make the playoffs, but winning the divisional title could hinge on winning in Seattle on the final game of the regular season.

Green Bay Packers (8-2)

At 94 percent, the Packers' chances of making the playoffs are the highest of any team in the NFC and a 66 percent chance of winning the division.

Green Bay hasn't exactly blown teams away—its point differential is the second-lowest of the eight divisional leaders—but continues to win games when it matters.

The Packers face the 49ers after their bye in Week 11, but the season-defining game could be their trip to Minneapolis to face the Vikings on December 23.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field on November 10 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dylan Buell/Getty

New Orleans Saints (7-2)

The Saints' home loss to Atlanta on Sunday was arguably the biggest upset of Week 10, but they remain comfortably in control of the NFC South and FiveThirtyEight gives them a 90 percent chance of reaching the playoffs and a 47 percent chance of securing a first round bye.

The next four weeks—during which the Saints face their three divisional rivals and the 49ers—will go a long way in determining whether those predictions will come to pass.

Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)

Such is the nature of the NFC East, that Dallas has a 48 percent chance of winning the division to Philadelphia's 61, despite the fact the Cowboys currently hold the tiebreaker over the Eagles.

Dallas has gone 2-4 in the last six games and faces trips to New England, Detroit and Chicago over the next four weeks. The latter two are eminently winnable, but the Cowboys have no room for error ahead of their road game in Philadelphia in Week 16.

The Eagles, meanwhile, host the Patriots and the Seahawks over the next two games, but have an easy run—trips to Miami and Washington with a home game against the Giants in between—before they collide with the Cowboys.

Seattle Seahawks (8-2)

Seattle's win over the 49ers on Monday night strengthened its chances of clinching a wildcard spot and put it firmly in contention for a divisional title.

The Seahawks are one game behind the 49ers—whom they will host in Week 17—and have an 82 percent chance to win the NFC West, but face a tough schedule with trips to Philadelphia and Los Anegels—to face the Rams—either side of a game agains the Vikings over the next three weeks.

Minnesota Vikings (7-3)

The Vikings' win in Dallas on Sunday night gave a significant boost to their playoffs chances, which now stand at 86 percent—the highest of any team not currently leading a division.

Bar a trip to Seattle in Week 13 and a home game against the Packers in Week 16, Minnesota has a relatively easy schedule between now and the end of the season, with home games against Denver, Detroit and Chicago and a trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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