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49ers most deserving of playoffs, but Patriots still lurking

Projecting the teams most deserving of the playoffs and ranking them heading into Week 10.

1. San Francisco (8-0)

49ers look to stay the lone unbeaten with the aid of 11 days off while Seattle is coming off an overtime game.

This week: vs. Seattle (7-2), Monday. Last week’s ranking: 2.

2. New England (8-1)

Not a good showing by the defense in Baltimore, but even the 1985 Bears had a stinker in a 38-24 loss at Miami.

This week: Bye. Last week’s ranking: 1.

3. New Orleans (7-1)

With 73 catches so far, receiver Michael Thomas is on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s NFL record of 143.

This week: vs. Atlanta (1-7). Last week’s ranking: 3.

4. Green Bay (7-2)

The upstart Packers face their first adversity after road wreck vs. Chargers with Panthers and Niners up next.

This week: vs. Carolina (5-3). Last week’s ranking: 4.

5. Kansas City (6-3)

The undermanned Chiefs earned a lot of respect by gutting out a win over Vikings, and the defense is improving.

This week: at Tennessee (4-5). Last week’s ranking: 5.

6. Baltimore (6-2)

Ravens looked like contenders in knocking off the champs, but — upset alert — many teams have hangovers after playing Patriots. Even the Dolphins won last week.

This week: at Cincinnati (0-8). Last week’s ranking: 6.

7. Seattle (7-2)

They add receiver Josh Gordon, but defense has allowed sixth-most points in league (230). Pass rush, not passing game, needs improvement.

This week: at San Francisco (8-0). Last week’s ranking: 9.

8. Houston (6-3)

Texans need to get a lot of rest because they return to face Ravens, Colts and Patriots. Yikes.

This week: Bye. Last week’s ranking: 10.

9. Minnesota (6-3)

Toughness questions continue to dog Kirk Cousins after Vikings blow 23-20 lead at KC. Final six plays: minus-7 yards.

This week: at Dallas (5-3). Last week’s ranking: 7.

10. Indianapolis (5-3)

Not a surprise Jacoby Brissett (MCL sprain) may play. He once won a game for Patriots with a busted thumb that later needed season-ending surgery.

This week: vs. Miami (1-7). Last week’s ranking: 8.

11. Dallas (5-3)

Michael Bennett had a sack and six quarterback pressures in debut. Might be putting the D in Dallas.

This week: vs. Minnesota (6-3). Last week’s ranking: 11.

12. Buffalo (6-2)

Free Devin Singletary. After getting 29 touches in the previous four games, the rookie back had 23 for 140 yards vs. Redskins.

This week: at Cleveland (2-6). Last week’s ranking: 12.

Dropped out: None.

Knocking on the door: Rams (5-3), Eagles (5-4), Raiders (4-4), Panthers (5-3), Chargers (4-5), Jaguars (4-5).

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