Week 9 marks the middle of the NFL season. It’s also far enough along that the playoff picture has begun to take shape with contenders rising to the top and a handful of teams already well out of contention.
The Patriots, Vikings, and Steelers are all on bye in Week 9, and the Bills picked up a loss Thursday, but there were still plenty of other important matchups Sunday that influenced the race for spots in the postseason.
Here are the standings for each conference after Week 9.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
- New England Patriots (6-2)
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
- Tennessee Titans (5-3)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3)
- Buffalo Bills (5-3)
The Steelers and Patriots were off in Week 9, but for now, they both hold first-round byes. New England jumped to the No. 2 spot with the Chiefs’ loss to the Cowboys.
The AFC South has quickly become a two-team race after Deshaun Watson’s season-ending ACL injury. The Titans and Jaguars are both 5-3 after wins Sunday, but the Titans stay in first place in the division thanks to a head-to-head victory in Week 2. Jacksonville, which beat the Bengals this week, stays in the AFC Wild Card picture.
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
- New Orleans Saints (6-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
- Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
- Carolina Panthers (6-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
The Eagles ran all over the Broncos and improved to 8-1, keeping a firm hold on the top spot in the NFC. The Cowboys leaped into the final wild card spot with a win against the Chiefs — and they got a little help from an enemy. The Seahawks’ last-minute loss to Washington dropped Seattle out of the playoff picture for now.
Minnesota’s bye week gave the Lions and Packers an opportunity to stay in the mix in the wide open NFC North. The Lions won a rare game at Lambeau Field on Monday night, and now both teams are 4-4, two games back of the Vikings.
The Saints matched the Vikings’ record with a win at home against the Buccaneers. The Rams also moved to 6-2, but the three-way tie goes to the Saints for now thanks to the best record in conference play. Luckily, we have plenty of time to get that logjam sorted out properly.
Rounding out the crucial games was a matchup between the defending NFC champion Falcons and the Panthers. The Falcons desperately needed the win to avoid a .500 record, but they fell, 20-17. That gives Carolina and New Orleans an even bigger lead in the NFC South.