As the NFL season enters Week 9, the playoff picture is beginning to come into form. If the season ended today the Titans and Packers would earn byes through the Wild Card Round in their respective conferences. In the AFC, the 6 teams that fill out the remainder of the pack are the Raiders, Ravens, Bills, Bengals, Steelers and Chargers. In the NFC, the Cardinals, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Rams, Saints and Panthers round out the top 7 teams.
After a hot start for the Chargers, they have struggled after tearing the Ravens apart a few weeks ago, most recently losing to the Patriots at home who are right behind them in the playoff chase at 4-4. Probably the most surprising out of all the teams in the league is the Kansas City Chiefs, who are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture at the 9 seed. At 4-4 they are behind the Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, all teams who were expected to be far inferior than the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs.
While in the AFC there is a ton of competition for wild card slots, the drop off in talent in the NFC is much larger. After the 5-2 Saints, the Panthers are holding on to the last playoff spot as a .500 team and after that there is the Vikings and 49ers, both of whom are under .500. While the back end of the NFC is not incredibly exciting, the top of the conference is filled with Super Bowl contenders. From the reigning champions, the Buccaneers, to the Cardinals, Packers, Rams and Cowboys, all of whom have no more than 2 losses.
As the season enters the winter months it will be interesting to see where these teams stand come Christmas time.