Patriots

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

Phil Perry's turning point from Patriots-Eagles>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Tom Brady doesn't officially become a free agent until the new league year begins on March 18, but the rumors are already flying about the New England Patriot quarterback's future.

A report surfaced earlier in the week that Brady and his family purchased a home in Greenwich, Connecticut. As NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran pointed out, that is false.

But that doesn't mean Brady isn't planning on making a move.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Thursday night on "Arbella Early Edition," Gary Tanguay revealed that a source told him Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen are looking to leave New England.

"I was told today by a source the family is planning to leave the area," Tanguay said. "The priority this time is to let the kids finish school this year, then they're gone."

Tanguay's report doesn't mean Brady is definitely leaving New England, but talks of him and his family looking to live somewhere else continue to gain steam.

If Brady indeed is moving on from New England and looking to start a new chapter, some of that could do with his desire to finally make the money he's worth in free agency.

According to Tanguay, Brady is "embarrassed" by the number of quarterbacks in the league that make more than him and has been fed up about it dating back to the summer, before he signed his contract extension.

Thirteen quarterbacks, including Brady's former backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, make more on average annually than the six-time Super Bowl champion according to overthecap.com.

The truth is, we won't know for certain what's going through Brady's mind until the ink is on paper for the 42-year-old's new contract. Until then, it's going to be a stressful offseason for Patriots fans.

Curran: Is this newfound time a silver lining for Patriots?

Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

curran_patriots_talk_podcast.png
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

Needless to say, it's unusual for the New England Patriots to have so much down time in January. Typically, they're playing in the AFC Divisional Round. And the AFC Championship Game. And often, the Super Bowl.

But this year, they were eliminated in the Wild Card Round for the first time since 2009. And now, they have a lot of time on their hands.

And while their early playoff exit was surely discouraging, the Patriots could stand to benefit from this extra time.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed how the Patriots could utilize the extra time and the positive impact it could have on the organization.

Click here to subscribe to the Tom E. Curran Patriots Talk Podcast

Curran pointed out that because the team has so often been playing into February, their already thin staff has been stretched thin come draft season, which explains why the team has had some draft misses in recent seasons.

Really, it comes down to 312 days of prepreparation were sacrifice. And so for a bare bones organization in terms of both front office and coaching staff -- these guys have had shorter offseasons by a month on average than any other team in the NFL.

So on one hand, it's remarkable and it's a high-class problem. On the other hand, isn't it somewhat inevitable that you might have some draft swings and misses?

Perry agreed with Curran and brought up that the fact that the extra time off will give Belichick a real chance to thoroughly evaluate his roster.

I think for a team that is looking at a reboot, one of the sort of ironic things about that is that now you have time to really think that through in more detail and not to say that Bill Belichick isn't planning or looking at his roster, how it's constructed, how the contracts set up and trying to plan ahead. I'm sure he is doing that to a certain extent.

But you can only spend so much time on those things when you're getting ready for the divisional round, the AFC Championship Game every year, the Super Bowl every other year.

This surely makes sense and is definitely a positive for the Patriots. Perhaps with that extra time, Belichick can find a way to retain Tom Brady while significantly upgrading his supporting cast.

For more on the Patriots offseason plans, potential changes in their front office, and predictions for the AFC and NFC Championship Games, check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.