There is an upper tier in the AFC entering Week 11 and it includes two teams -- the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (8-1).
My apologies to the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills (7-3) and the Baltimore Ravens (6-3), but they are in the next tier.
The Ravens had a case for belonging in the top tier entering Week 10, but after a lackluster performance Sunday night in a 23-17 loss to the New England Patriots, it's hard to give Baltimore the benefit of the doubt.
It looked like the Patriots' season was over two weeks ago when a four-game losing streak dropped the team's record to 2-5. But New England has bounced back with consecutive wins and is starting to build a lot of confidence, especially on offense where running back Damien Harris and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers are giving the team much-needed production at the skill positions.
The Patriots' margin for error remains slim, but making the playoffs is once again a realistic goal for this group after an upset win over the Ravens.
Here's an updated look at the AFC playoff picture entering Monday.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-0 (AFC North leader)
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 8-1 (AFC West leader)
3. Buffalo Bills, 7-3 (AFC East leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 6-3 (AFC South leader)
5. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-3 (First wild card)
6. Miami Dolphins, 6-3 (Second wild card)
7. Baltimore Ravens, 6-3 (Third wild card)
On the Outside
8. Cleveland Browns, 6-3
9. Tennessee Titans, 6-3
10. New England Patriots, 4-5
The Patriots are two games out of a wild card berth with seven games remaining. They are 2.5 games behind the Bills for first place in the AFC East, and those two rivals will play once more in Week 16 at Gillette Stadium.
Here's a look at New England's remaining schedule:
Week 11: at Houston Texans
Week 12: vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 13: at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 14: at Los Angeles Rams
Week 15: at Miami Dolphins
Week 16: vs. Buffalo Bills
Week 17: vs. New York Jets
Four of these seven games are on the road, where the Patriots are 1-3 this season.
They also have several games left against playoff-caliber teams, including the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals, a good Los Angeles Rams club that impressively beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a resurgent Miami Dolphins team, and another matchup with the Bills.
New England does have a few games remaining that are very winnable, including matchups versus the 2-7 Houston Texans, 2-7 Los Angeles Chargers and 0-9 New York Jets. Even though the Dolphins are playing well and haven't lost (3-0) with Tua Tagovailoa leading the offense, you have to like the Patriots' chances against a rookie quarterback at home in Week 15.
The Patriots probably need to go 6-1 (for a 10-6 finish) or 5-2 (for a 9-7 finish) the rest of the way to have a real chance at extending their postseason appearance streak to 12 seasons. The odds are not in the Patriots' favor, but given this team's experience, coaching talent and semi-favorable schedule, you can't count them out just yet.