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NFL playoff picture Week 11: Patriots, Ravens in exciting race for AFC's top seed

NFL playoff picture Week 11: Patriots, Ravens in exciting race for AFC's top seed

The New England Patriots protected their lead atop the AFC standings in Week 11 with a 17-10 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles, improving their record to 9-1.

The defending Super Bowl champs suffered their first loss in Week 9 with a lackluster 37-20 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, but they recovered nicely after a Week 10 bye to keep their grip on the conference's No. 1 seed. Tom Brady and Co.'s margin of error remains razor thin, though, because the Ravens have the tiebreaker advantage as a result of their head-to-head win two weeks ago.

If it wasn't already clear Baltimore is a legit Super Bowl contender, quarterback Lamar Jackson made it quite evident Sunday by leading a 41-7 trouncing of the Houston Texans.

Both the Patriots and Ravens have tough Week 12 matchups on deck. The Pats will host the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, while the Ravens will face the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams on the road.

The Texans dropped from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed as a result of Sunday's defeat, but they lead the Oakland Raiders for the second wild-card spot because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Raiders extended their win streak to three games with a 17-10 victory versus the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

The Colts earned a comfortable 33-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to move back into the AFC South lead.

The Kansas Chiefs now have sole possession of first place in the AFC West after beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night. The 7-4 Chiefs also passed Indianapolis and now are the No. 3 seed in the AFC.

The Buffalo Bills continued to ride a soft schedule to a potential wild card berth. Buffalo beat the Miami Dolphins 37-20 on Sunday.

The NFC race is going to be absolutely wild down the stretch. There are five teams with an 8-3 record or better, and the fight for the top two seeds -- which mean a first-round playoff bye -- will be a lot of fun to watch. The best game of Week 12 is a matchup between the Chiefs and Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football" that will impact the playoff race in both conferences.

Here's the updated NFL playoff picture after Sunday's Week 11 games.

AFC
1. New England Patriots, 9-1 (AFC East leader)
2. Baltimore Ravens, 8-2 (AFC North leader)
3. Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 (AFC West leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 6-4 (AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills, 7-3 (First Wild Card)
6. Houston Texans, 6-4 (Second Wild Card)

In the Hunt
7. Oakland Raiders, 6-4
8. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-5
9. Tennessee Titans, 5-5

NFC
1. San Francisco 49ers, 9-1 (NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers, 8-2 (NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints, 8-2 (NFC South leader)
4. Dallas Cowboys, 6-4 (NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks, 8-2 (First Wild Card)
6. Minnesota Vikings, 8-3 (Second Wild Card)

In the Hunt
7. Los Angeles Rams, 6-4
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-5
9. Carolina Panthers, 5-5

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NFL highlights: Watch Patriots, Tom Brady fool Chiefs on flea-flicker TD

NFL highlights: Watch Patriots, Tom Brady fool Chiefs on flea-flicker TD

The New England Patriots took an early lead over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday with a pretty unconventional scoring drive, but given the struggles of quarterback Tom Brady and his offense in recent weeks, they'll certainly take it.

The Patriots couldn't get anything going on their first drive, but they picked up two first downs on third-down pass interference penalties. After the second penalty, the Patriots went into their bag of tricks with a flea flicker play.

Brady received a lateral from running back James White and found wide receiver Julian Edelman deep down the field for a 37-yard touchdown.

Take a look at the scoring play in the video below:

The Patriots came into Sunday's Week 14 matchup having scored an average of just 18 points over their last four games. Going right down the field and scoring a touchdown on the opening possession -- even with the aid of two penalties -- is exactly what the defending champions needed against a Chiefs team that scores the third-most points per game.

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These stats should inspire confidence in the Patriots before their game vs. Chiefs

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These stats should inspire confidence in the Patriots before their game vs. Chiefs

The New England Patriots don't lose at home very often. Don't believe me? Just take a look at couple of remarkable stats.

According to CLNS Media's Evan Lazar, the Patriots are undefeated at home with both Julian Edelman and Tom Brady in the lineup.

Additionally, the Patriots hold a remarkable record against sub-25-year-old quarterbacks at home for the better part of the past two decades.

Here's a look at the exact numbers, per Lazar.

Safe to say, these stats would seemingly indicate that the Patriots should be favored to beat the Chiefs. And they point to the massive homefield advantage that the Patriots hold playing at Foxboro.

While all trends are meant to be broken, the Chiefs are going to be fighting an uphill battle on Sunday, especially after they left some of their equipment on a flight to Newark and had to scramble to get it to Foxboro ahead of the game.

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