We've reached the halfway point of the NFL season and ... well, there aren't a ton of elite teams, to say the least. To get a feel for the races to watch as we head into the second half of the season, here's a look at a very, very early look at the playoff picture at the end of the Week 9 action. If the season ended today, this is what postseason would look like.
1. New England Patriots
RECORD: 7-1 (AFC 6–1)
AFC East leaders. Week 9: BYE. Week 10: vs. Seahawks.
2. OAKLAND RAIDERS
RECORD: 7-2 (AFC 5–1)
AFC West leaders. Week 9: Beat Broncos, 30–20. Week 10: BYE.
3. Houston Texans
RECORD: 5-3 (AFC 3–2)
AFC South leaders. Week 9: BYE. Week 10: at Jaguars.
4. Baltimore Ravens
RECORD: 4-4 (AFC 4–2)
AFC North leaders. Week 9: Beat Steelers, 21–14. Week 10: vs. Browns.
5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
RECORD: 6-2 (AFC 5–2)
First wild card. Week 9: Beat Jaguars, 19–14. Week 10: at Panthers.
6. Denver Broncos
RECORD: 6-3 (AFC 4–2)
Second wild card. Week 9: Lost to Raiders, 30–20. Week 10: at Saints.
1. Dallas Cowboys
RECORD: 7-1 (NFC 5–1)
NFC East leaders. Week 9: Beat Browns, 35–10. Week 10: at Steelers.
NFC West leaders. Week 9: Beat Bills, 31–25. Week 10: at Patriots.
3. atlanta falcons
RECORD: 6-3 (NFC 4–2)
NFC South leaders. Week 9: Beat Buccaneers, 43–28. Week 10: At Eagles.
4. Minnesota vikings
RECORD: 5-3 (NFC 3–3)
NFC North leaders. Week 9: Lost to Lions, 22–16. Week 10: at Redskins.
5. NEW YORK GIANTS
RECORD: 5-3 (NFC 4–3)
First wild card. Week 9: Beat Eagles, 28–23. Week 10: vs. Bengals.
6. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
RECORD: 4-3-1 (NFC 2-2)
Second wild card. Week 9: BYE. Week 10: vs. Vikings.
The AFC West currently has three teams in the postseason, with the Broncos falling to sixth behind the Chiefs after their loss to the Raiders on Sunday Night Football. The struggling Steelers surrendered their lead in the AFC North with a loss to the Ravens, and next week should be another big test as they host the Cowboys, the top team in the NFC. The Patriots will return from their Week 9 bye with a potentially tricky matchup against the Seahawks.
We’re only halfway through the season, but the Cowboys already have separated themselves to the tune of a two-game lead atop the NFC after the Vikings lost in overtime to the Lions. The Falcons, who are now in the No. 3 seed, asserted their dominance with an easy win against the Buccaneers on Thursday, and they’ll have another chance to gain ground in Week 10 against the foundering Eagles. The Packers’ loss to the Colts knocks them out of the playoff bracket for now, allowing the Redskins, on their bye week, to slide into the final wild-card spot.