UPDATE: Here’s an updated look at the playoff picture as Week 10 comes to a close.
By coincidence, Week 10 of the NFL schedule will affect the NFC far more meaningfully than its counterpart. The biggest AFC matchup of the week — the divisional showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans — took place on Thursday and gave the former a slight edge in standings. The other major leverage games primarily affect the NFC West, arguably the deepest and most hotly contested division in the league.
The NFC West lead could realistically change hands this week, and the key game for that determination comes Sunday afternoon when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Rams. At present, the Seahawks hold the lead in the division by half a game. However, quarterback and MVP candidate Russell Wilson has struggled in recent weeks with turnovers and the Rams come off a bye week, giving head coach Sean McVay extra time to game plan for Seattle. The showdown looks like the marquee matchup of the weekend.
Elsewhere, the Arizona Cardinals will host the Buffalo Bills for a tilt that also affects the NFC West. At present, the Cardinals sit in the No. 6 slot in the conference but could move into a de facto three-way tie for their division with a victory and a Seahawks loss. Meanwhile, the Bills already appear to have the AFC East well in control but could add needed cushion between themselves and the AFC South leader by knocking off Arizona.
Returning to the NFC, the Chicago Bears can silence their loudest critics by knocking off the visiting Minnesota Vikings, the winners of two straight, on Monday Night Football. The Bears’ hot start always seemed tenuous given their offensive struggles and small margins of victory, but the struggles of Nick Foles has brought a heightened level of scrutiny for the organization. Conversely, the Vikings have bounced back after losing five of their first seven games and could force themselves back into the wild-card discussion with a victory in Chicago.
AFC playoff picture
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-0 — vs. Bengals
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-1 — BYE
3. Buffalo Bills: 7-2 — at Cardinals
4. Indianapolis Colts: 6-3 — at Titans, 34-17 win on TNF
5. Baltimore Ravens: 6-2 — at Patriots
6. Tennessee Titans: 6-3 — vs. Colts, 34-17 loss on TNF
7. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-3 — vs. Broncos
TNF: Colts 34 - Titans 17
Jaguars (1-7) @ Packers (6-2)
Texans (2-6) @ Browns (5-3)
Broncos (3-5) @ Raiders (5-3)
Chargers (2-6) @ Dolphins (5-3)
Bills (7-2) @ Cardinals (5-3)
Bengals (2-5-1) @ Steelers (8-0)
Ravens (6-2) @ Patriots (3-5)
NFC playoff picture
1. New Orleans Saints: 6-2 — vs. 49ers
2. Seattle Seahawks: 6-2 — at Rams
3. Green Bay Packers: 6-2 — vs. Jaguars
4. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4-1 — at Giants
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-3 — at Panthers
6. Arizona Cardinals: 5-3 — vs. Bills
7. Los Angeles Rams: 5-3 — vs. Seahawks
In the hunt: Chicago Bears (5-4), San Francisco 49ers (4-5), Minnesota Vikings (3-5), Detroit Lions (3-5), the rest of the NFC East as it pertains to the division crown
Jaguars (1-7) @ Packers (6-2)Washington (2-6) @ Lions (3-5)Buccaneers (6-3) @ Panthers (3-6)Bills (7-2) @ Cardinals (5-3)Seahawks (6-2) @ Rams (5-3)49ers (4-5) @ Saints (6-2)Vikings (3-5) @ Bears (5-4)