2021 NFL playoff picture: Updated AFC standings, scenarios entering Week 12

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NFL Playoff Picture: Here's where Patriots stand after crazy week of upsets originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots continued their ascent up the AFC standings Sunday.

The Patriots took care of business Thursday night with an impressive 25-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons on the road. New England's fifth consecutive victory improved its record to 7-4.

They leapfrogged the Bills for first place in the AFC East as a result of Buffalo’s surprising 41-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon. The Patriots and Bills have the same amount of losses but New England has one more win. The Pats haven't had their bye week yet, while the Bills have.

New England has two pivotal games before its Week 14 bye that will greatly impact the playoff race.

The first is a Week 12 showdown versus the AFC-leading Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. The Titans suffered a shocking loss to the 1-8 Houston Texans on Sunday. This means the Patriots can jump ahead of the Titans in the standings if they beat Tennessee next week.

Patriots Talk Podcast: The Aftermath: Patriots put the clamps on the Falcons | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

After that game, the Patriots will play the Bills in Buffalo. These rivals still have two head-to-head meetings remaining, and those games likely will be the deciding factor in which team wins the division.

Here's an updated look at the AFC playoff picture after the Week 11 games. This article will be updated through Monday night.

In a Playoff Spot

1. Tennessee Titans, 8-3 (AFC South leader)

2. Baltimore Ravens, 7-3 (AFC North leader)

3. New England Patriots, 7-4 (AFC East leader)

4. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 (AFC West leader)

5. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-4 (First wild card)

6. Los Angeles Chargers, 6-4 (Second wild card)

7. Buffalo Bills, 6-4 (Third wild card)

On the Bubble

8. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-4-1

9. Indianapolis Colts, 6-5

10. Cleveland Browns, 6-5

11. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-5

12. Denver Broncos, 5-5