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How NFL Week 9 impacted the playoff picture and what to look for moving forward

There’s been a shakeup in the NFC playoff picture after a number of interesting outcomes on Sunday.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There are no remaining undefeated NFL teams after the Saints handed the Rams their first loss of the 2018 season. Despite the loss, the Rams still have the NFC’s best record and if the season ended today, Los Angeles would be the No. 1 seed in the conference with New Orleans right behind them as the No. 2 seed. For now, the Saints’ 45-35 win over the Rams doesn’t have playoff implications, but there are still eight weeks remaining in the season and lots of football left to be played! Down the stretch, we may be reminded of this game.

Last week Washington was in line for the No. 3 seed in the NFC, the Bears were set up to be the four seed and the Panthers and Seahawks rounded out the seedings as the fifth and sixth seeds respectively. Now, Seattle is on the outside looking in after their loss to the Chargers. The Bears’ win over the Bills and Washington’s loss to the Falcons has Chicago holding onto the three seed and Washington with the four seed. The Panthers remain in line for the No. 5 seed and the Vikings have snatched onto the six seed after their decisive win over the Lions.

As for the AFC, there is no change to the seedings since last week. The Chiefs won again, the Patriots beat the Packers, the Steelers beat their AFC North foe in Baltimore, the Texans beat the Broncos, the Chargers (as previously mentioned) beat the Seahawks, and the Bengals remained in place during their bye week.

When it comes to the teams in the hunt, the Dolphins won while the Ravens, Jets, and Broncos lost. The Jaguars and Colts had their bye weeks and the Titans don’t play until tonight when they take on the Cowboys.

AFC playoff picture

What to watch for: As the season continues, the battle for the AFC North will be among the top things to watch in the AFC. The Steelers’ win over the Ravens helped boost Pittsburgh’s chances of winning the division and handed the Ravens their first losing record of the season. Baltimore has its bye week up next, during which the team will look to improve on some of the things that have led to their three-game losing streak. The Bengals remained in second place in the AFC North while on their bye week, but news of an A.J. Green toe injury potentially costing the star receiver multiple weeks will surely hurt Cincinnati moving forward.

The Chargers look destined for the No. 5 seed with the red-hot Chiefs showing no signs of slowing down and giving up their lead in the AFC West. Up next for the Chargers are the Raiders, Broncos, Cardinals, and Steelers. The next four teams on Chiefs’ schedule include two of the same teams as the Cardinals, Rams, Raiders, and Ravens are on deck.

If the season ended today, these would be the AFC playoff seeds:

1. Chiefs (record: 8-1), (conference record: 7-1)

2. Patriots (7-2), (5-1)

3. Steelers (5-2-1), (3-2-1)

4. Texans (6-3), (5-2)

5. Chargers (6-2), (4-1)

6. Bengals (5-3), (3-2)

In the hunt...

Dolphins (5-4), (4-3)
Ravens (4-5), (4-3)
Titans (4-4), (2-4)
Jaguars (3-5), (2-3)
Colts (3-5), (2-4)
Jets (3-6), (2-4)
Broncos (3-6), (1-5)

NFC playoff picture

What to watch for: Can the Seahawks climb back into the playoff picture in the near future? Seattle’s next three games are tough ones against the Rams, Packers, and Panthers.

The NFC North race remains tight with the Bears in first place and the Vikings chasing close behind. The Packers and Lions are losing steam, but remain in the hunt. Washington can’t afford too many more losses with the Eagles knocking on their door and the Cowboys looking to pick up ground against the Titans on Monday Night Football.

If the season ended today, these would be the NFC playoff seeds:

1. Rams (8-1), (5-1)

2. Saints (7-1), (5-1)

3. Bears (5-3), (3-1)

4. ​Washington (5-3), (5-2)

5. Panthers (6-2), (4-2)

6. Vikings (5-3-1), (4-2-1)

In the hunt...

Falcons (4-4), (4-2)
Seahawks (4-4), (3-2)
Eagles (4-4), (2-3)
Packers (3-4-1), (2-3-1)
Cowboys (3-5), (2-3)
Buccaneers (3-5), (2-3)
Lions (3-5), (1-4)