Remember when the New England Patriots were toiling near the AFC basement at 2-4? Well, they're one of the top five teams in the conference as of Friday morning.
The Patriots blanked the Atlanta Falcons 25-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night to earn their fifth consecutive victory. They now have sole possession of fifth place in the AFC as the first wild card team, with the chance to vault higher pending the results of Sunday's games.
If the season ended right now, the Patriots would face the No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. But if the Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens all lose in Week 11, New England could jump to as high as No. 2 by weekend's end.
That's not out of the realm of possibility, either: The Bills play the 5-5 Indianapolis Colts, the Chiefs face the 7-2 Dallas Cowboys and the Ravens face the 3-6 Chicago Bears on the road after losing to the lowly Miami Dolphins last Thursday.
The Patriots have a tough road ahead to maintain their position, though: They host the AFC-leading Titans in Week 11, followed by Buffalo in Week 13, Indianapolis in Week 15 after a Week 14 bye and the Bills again in Week 16.
Here's a look at the AFC playoff picture after New England's win Thursday night. Check back in Sunday night and Monday night for the post-Week 11 update.
(Editor's Note: Check out the latest AFC Playoff Picture with the results of Sunday's Week 11 games here.)
In a Playoff Spot
1. Tennessee Titans, 8-2 (AFC South leader)
2. Buffalo Bills, 6-3 (AFC East leader)
3. Baltimore Ravens, 6-3 (AFC North leader)
4. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-4 (AFC West leader)
5. New England Patriots, 7-4 (First wild card)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-3-1 (Second wild card)
7. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-4 (Third wild card)
On the Bubble
8. Cincinnati Bengals, 5-4
9. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-4
10. Indianapolis Colts, 5-5
11. Cleveland Browns, 5-5
12. Denver Broncos, 5-4