NFL Playoffs

Updated NFL playoff picture: Chiefs stay atop AFC

The NFL playoff picture is beginning to take shape following Week 8’s early games on Sunday, and the Kansas City Chiefs remain in cruise control with a 7-1 record.

Patrick Mahomes had another jaw-dropping performance under center, outdoing his heroics against the Denver Broncos earlier this season to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a 30-23 victory over Vance Joseph’s team. The win moves the Chiefs up to 7-1 on the season, and they are the only team in the AFC with just one loss this season, courtesy of the New England Patriots.

As it stands right now, the 7-1 Chiefs, buoyed by their MVP candidate at quarterback, would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC with the 5-2 Patriots bagging the other first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans would make the posteason as division winners, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers joining the playoff race as wild card teams.

Of the projected wild card teams, the Chargers could be the most dangerous. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler give the Chargers an enviable duo of running backs who can both move the chains on the ground or through the air, while Philip Rivers is once again firing on all cylinders. Rivers has a mix of explosive playmakers and savvy possession receivers, making the Chargers a serious threat once January comes around.

Over in the NFC, the undefeated Los Angeles Rams sit at 7-0 with their own MVP candidate at quarterback. The Rams, who once entertained the idea of trading for Khalil Mack, are one of the best-run organizations in the NFL behind young head coach Sean McVay. If they decide to add another star on defense at the trade deadline, such as Jadeveon Clowney, then they could make it impossible for any NFC team to catch up.

At 5-1, the New Orleans Saints would be the projected No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Drew Brees is playing some of the best football of his career, and he’s received a huge boost from Tre’Quan Smith as Michael Thomas’s partner in crime. Throw in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram at running back, and the Saints are built to make a deep playoff run.

Minnesota and Washington would both make the playoffs as the leading teams in the NFC North and NFC East, with the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks all fighting for a wild card spot. At 4-4, the Philadelphia Eagles are finally finding their footing with Carson Wentz under center, and they are the favorites to catch up to Alex Smith and Co. in the NFC East.

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As it stands right now in Week 8, the Chiefs are the cream of the crop in the NFL, and while the Patriots did defeat them, that game could have gone either way. It took a special performance from Tom Brady and the Patriots to beat the explosive offense of Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Tyreek Hill, and nobody else in the NFL has been up to the task yet.

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