The 2021 NFL season is into double-digit weeks and past the midpoint of its new 17-game schedule. That makes it a perfect early time to check in on the updated standings and what the playoff picture is looking like after Week 10’s action.
The league kept its expanded playoff field, with 14 of its 32 teams (43.8 percent) set to qualify for the latest postseason. That includes 7 each from the AFC and NFC, with only the No. 1 seeds getting byes on top of home-field advantage.
Who would be in, who’s still in contention, and who should be thinking about next season? Here’s a comprehensive look:
NFL standings after Week 10
AFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Tennessee Titans (8-2), first place, AFC South. The Titans have key wins over the Bills and Chiefs to build up their strong conference record, with only a loss to the Jets. Their other loss was to the Cardinals. Beating the Saints, they went up a game and a half ahead of the losing Ravens. Remaining strength of schedule: .346
2. Buffalo Bills (6-3), first place, AFC East. The Bills were thrilled when they beat the Chiefs to get to 5-1 but have lost tough games to the Titans and Jaguars to follow up their Week 1 home loss to the Steelers. Beyond falling to this seed, that’s dwindled their division lead over Patriots to only a half game. That’s why their Jets rebound win was huge. Remaining strength of schedule: .513
3. Baltimore Ravens (6-3), first place, AFC North. The Ravens failed to keep pressure on the Titans and Bills by being shocked by the Dolphins on Thursday night. They have key AFC wins over the Chiefs and Chargers but also lost to the Raiders and Bengals. The key for them holding a strong non wild-card position is winning more in the tough AFC North down the stretch. Remaining strength of schedule: 579
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4), first place, AFC West. The Chiefs took over their rightful position in the division by beating the Raiders and also getting a break from the Chargers losing the late afternoon window ahead of them. They will need to get ahead of everyone ahead of them outright to move to up all the way to No. 1 because three of their losses came to the Titans, Bills and Ravens. Remaining strength of schedule: 577
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1), second place, AFC North. The Steelers are hoping to stay right behind the Ravens in their chase for a second straight division title. They have wins over the Bills, Browns and Broncos but lost to the Raiders and Bengals. They were shorthanded but still should have beaten the Lions. A tie is still a better result than the Browns had. Remaining strength of schedule: .600
6. New England Patriots (6-4), second place, AFC East. The Patriots have rallied to get two games above .500 and keep the Bills from running away with the division again. They won a key wild-card implications game against the Browns in Week 10. Their other big conference win was over the Chargers. Remaining strength of schedule: .515
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4), second place, AFC West. The Chargers bolted into the surprise division lead going into Week 10 by virtue of wins over the Chiefs and Raiders, so the home loss to the Vikings hurt. Brandon Staley is a coach of the year candidate as Year 2 with Justin Herbert has been fortuitous. They need to keep up the strong AFC West play in the second half. They need to beat the Chiefs again, now trailing them by a half game. Remaining strength of schedule: .473
Who can get there?
8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
9. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
10. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
11. Cleveland Browns (5-5)
12. Denver Broncos (5-5)
The Bengals and Raiders have a key game against each other in Week 11 in Las Vegas. The Browns need to make up ground quickly in the AFC North again. The Broncos are bound to fade and the Colts might have dug themselves too big of an early hole to return as a wild card.
Who’s set to be out?
13. Miami Dolphins (3-7)
14. New York Jets (2-7)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
16. Houston Texans (1-8)
There’s no surprise here, save for the major dropoff for the Dolphins. The Jets and Jaguars need to see more out of their rookie first-round quarterbacks in the second half.
NFC playoff picture
Who would be in?
1. Green Bay Packers (8-2), first place, NFC North. The Packers did beat the Cardinals but lost to the Saints among contenders. They don’t need to worry about the division again and would love to put the playoff path through Lambeau Field. They’re back in that prime position after their win over the Seahawks while the Cardinals lost. Remaining strength of schedule: .454
2. Arizona Cardinals (8-2), first place, NFC West. The Cardinals rolled over their first-half schedule, save for the Week 8 loss at home to the Packers, the team now right ahead of them. They also have a key road win over the Rams already in the division. But the Panthers loss without Kyler Murray in Week 10 may haunt them for a while with a shrinking division edge. Remaining strength of schedule: .438
3. Dallas Cowboys (7-2), first place, NFC East. The Cowboys jumped back here after rebounding from the Broncos home debacle by ripping the Falcons back in They are still in great shape to run away with the division and are alive and well for home-field advantage. Remaining strength of schedule: .493
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3), first place, NFC South. The Buccaneers don’t want to fall to a wild card again and need to worry about finishing ahead of the Saints, to whom they lost in Week 8. They still are a strong threat to finish as a top-two seed to make their Super Bowl repeat path a little easier but the shocking Week 10 loss at Washington, their second in a row, didn’t help. Remaining strength of schedule: .467
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-3) second place, NFC West. The Rams failed to move into a virtual tie with the Cardinals, to whom they lost, by being upset by the 49ers on Monday night for their second straight defeat. They are still in strong shape for at least this seed and will keep pushing for the division title with another game vs. Arizona left. Remaining strength of schedule: .538
6. New Orleans Saints (5-4), second place, NFC South. The Saints have some big NFC wins on their resume over the Packers, Buccaneers and Seahawks. The conference is weak enough to at least fall back on this seed or No. 7 behind with the Bucs, with a fair shot at repeating in the division. Unfortunately, they couldn’t beat the Titans to take advantage of the Buccaneers’ stumble. Remaining strength of schedule: .493.
7. Carolina Panthers (5-5), third place, NFC South. The Panthers jumped here into the final spot before their game at Arizona thanks to the Falcons, whom they beat earlier in the season, losing to the Cowboys. They stayed here by thrashing the Cardinals as the only exactly .500 team in the NFC. Remaining strength of schedule: .516
Who can get there?
8. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
9. San Francisco 49ers (4-5)
10. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
11. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
12. Washington Football Team (3-6)
13. New York Giants (3-6)
14. Seattle Seahawks (3-6)
15. Chicago Bears (3-6)
The Vikings, who beat the Panthers and Seahawks, can still make a run to a wild card should they figure out how to win more close games. Likewise, the 49ers can’t be counted out to rally, especially after a huge win against the Rams. The Falcons are a weird team from week to week, hard to trust either way. The Seahawks still are dangerous with a healthier Russell Wilson back. The Eagles, Giants and Washington have only a desperate wild-card path behind the Cowboys. The Bears and are hanging on by a thread.
Who’s set to be out?
16. Detroit Lions (0-8-1)
Put the Lions on pure winless watch for the rest of the season with a tie after their bye.
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