NFL playoff picture: Updated AFC, NFC standings if season ended today


Just like that, the NFL season is halfway over and only one undefeated team is left standing: The 49ers.

After Lamar Jackson and the Ravens whipped the Patriots on "Sunday Night Football," Kyle Shanahan's club is the only team with a bagel in the loss column. As such, the 8-0 49ers currently would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and would have a first-round bye. The 7-1 Saints would have the No. 2 seed and also have a first-round bye. 

With the Packers losing to the Chargers on Sunday, they fall to 6-2, giving them the No. 3 seed and a date with the No. 6 seed Vikings if the playoffs started today. The 4-3 Cowboys, who play the Giants on "Monday Night Football," are the No. 4 seed with the 7-2 Seahawks occupying the No. 5 seed. The 49ers would play the lowest remaining seed in the NFC Divisional Round, meaning they would face the winner of Cowboys-Seahawks unless the Vikings were to eke out a win in Lambeau Field.

Then we have the Raiders.

With all the drama and adversity Jon Gruden's club has faced this season, most expected them to hit the halfway mark dead and buried, especially after an unprecedented five-game road trip that many expected would doom their season. The Raiders survived the road odyssey at 3-4 and beat the Lions in thrilling fashion, 31-24, in Week 9 to move to 4-4 and put themselves firmly in the playoff race. 

Right now, the Raiders are on the outside looking in, with the 6-3 Chiefs leading the AFC West, and the 6-2 Bills and 5-3 Colts occupying the wild-card spots. But the Raiders beat the Colts in Week 4 and therefore own the tiebreaker over Indy. With Colts QB Jacoby Brissett going down with an MCL injury Sunday, the Colts could soon find themselves dropping out of the playoff picture.

But there is one other problem for the Raiders. The Steelers, who looked destined for a losing season after losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to an elbow injury, have rebounded and sit at 4-4 after beating the Colts on Sunday. The Steelers currently own the tiebreaker over the Raiders by virtue of a better conference record (Steelers are 4-2 in the AFC while the Raiders are 2-2), so the Raiders need to hope the Steelers and Colts start taking Ls.

The Raiders do have a much easier back half of the schedule. The Silver and Black face the 4-5 Chargers on Thursday night in Week 11 before taking on the winless Bengals and the 1-7 Jets. Gruden's club also has games against the Broncos, Titans and Jaguars in December, which all should be winnable. 

The path to 9-7 is there and that could be enough in the mediocre AFC to get the Raiders the No. 6 seed and a road game on Wild Card Weekend against one of the division winners (Patriots, Ravens, Chiefs, Texans).

[RELATED: Inside Raiders' thrilling game-winning drive vs. Lions]

Back to the undefeated 49ers.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. have feasted on weaker opponents to this point, but the road gets harder starting in Week 10 with a "Monday Night Football" showdown with the Seahawks. The 49ers also will play the Saints, Packers, Rams and Seahawks (again) to round out the season so the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye is by no means a lock.

The NFL season doesn't truly begin until after Halloween, so now it's time to find out which teams have what it takes to make real noise in the playoff picture.

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