The defending Super Bowl champs suffered their first loss in Week 9 with a lackluster 37-20 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, but they recovered nicely after a Week 10 bye to keep their grip on the conference's No. 1 seed. Tom Brady and Co.'s margin of error remains razor thin, though, because the Ravens have the tiebreaker advantage as a result of their head-to-head win two weeks ago.
Both the Patriots and Ravens have tough Week 12 matchups on deck. The Pats will host the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, while the Ravens will face the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams on the road.
The Texans dropped from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed as a result of Sunday's defeat, but they lead the Oakland Raiders for the second wild-card spot because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Raiders extended their win streak to three games with a 17-10 victory versus the winless Cincinnati Bengals.
The Colts earned a comfortable 33-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to move back into the AFC South lead.
The Kansas Chiefs now have sole possession of first place in the AFC West after beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night. The 7-4 Chiefs also passed Indianapolis and now are the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
The NFC race is going to be absolutely wild down the stretch. There are five teams with an 8-3 record or better, and the fight for the top two seeds -- which mean a first-round playoff bye -- will be a lot of fun to watch. The best game of Week 12 is a matchup between the Chiefs and Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football" that will impact the playoff race in both conferences.
Here's the updated NFL playoff picture after Sunday's Week 11 games.
1. New England Patriots, 9-1 (AFC East leader)
2. Baltimore Ravens, 8-2 (AFC North leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 (AFC West leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 6-4 (AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills, 7-3 (First Wild Card)
6. Houston Texans, 6-4 (Second Wild Card)
1. San Francisco 49ers, 9-1 (NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers, 8-2 (NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints, 8-2 (NFC South leader)
4. Dallas Cowboys, 6-4 (NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks, 8-2 (First Wild Card)
6. Minnesota Vikings, 8-3 (Second Wild Card)
In the Hunt
7. Los Angeles Rams, 6-4
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-5
9. Carolina Panthers, 5-5
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