The New England Patriots earned a crucial win Sunday as the NFL playoff races begin to heat up in the second half of the 2021 season.
The Patriots beat the Cleveland Browns 45-7 in their Week 10 game at Gillette Stadium. Not only does the victory preserve the Patriots' position among the wild card playoff spots in the AFC, it gives them an important head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Browns if these teams end the regular season with identical records. New England now owns head-to-head tiebreakers over both the Browns and Los Angeles Chargers.
The Patriots also moved ahead of the Chargers in the AFC standings as a result of L.A.'s loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon. The Patriots are now the No. 6 seed in the second wild card spot.
Next up for the Patriots is a Thursday night matchup with the Atlanta Falcons on the road. After playing the Falcons, the Patriots will face the AFC-leading Tennessee Titans and AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills in back-to-back games before reaching their bye week. It's a pivotal three-game stretch for New England.
Here's an updated look at the AFC playoff picture after the Week 10 games. This article will be updated through Monday night.
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. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-3-1 (First wild card)
6. New England Patriots, 6-4 (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