At this point, we all know that the Patriots let an opportunity to clinch the AFC East slip through their fingers last week by losing to the Miami Dolphins. And while it would have been nice to have that cushion going into this week's game, a showdown in Baltimore against the Ravens that is almost a lock to to come down to the final play, New England is still very well positioned for the postseason.
There are several clinching scenarios this week, starting with the Baltimore Ravens. Not only will the Pats clinch the AFC East with a win, but they can also potentially secure a first round bye this week depending on how some other games around the league go. Let's break down all possible playoff scenarios for Week 16.
The Patriots clinch the AFC East with:
- A win or tie vs. Baltimore
- A Miami loss or tie at Buffalo
The Patriots clinch the AFC East and a 1st round bye with:
The Patriots clinch a playoff berth with:
- A Bengals loss or tie against the Vikings
There are a lot of interesting games on this slate; Buffalo is no pushover at home, and Miami doesn't play as well in the cold as they do at home (don't tell the Steelers that). The Chiefs are desperately trying to keep pace with Denver in hopes of snatching the one seed, so they certainly won't be slacking off against the Colts. The Bengals are money at home, but they will also be facing a Vikings team that just obliterated the upstart Eagles and are looking to generate some momentum heading into the offseason. As it has been proved time and time again all year, anything goes this season.
Obviously, it all starts with getting the win against the Ravens coming off a short week and a last-second victory at Detroit. If the Patriots drop this one, they are all but relegated to the third seed and lose out on the bye. The Ravens always play tough at home, and play even tougher against the Patriots, so this game is sure to follow suit from pretty much every Pats vs. Ravens game of all time.
Of course, with this season seeing both the Patriots and the Ravens barely eking out wins at the last second, maybe this game will be an absolute blowout just to screw with us. It will certainly be interesting, as one of the league's worst offenses is going up against one of the league's worst defenses, so a 3-0 game isn't out of the question. Let's just hope the Pats can get it done on Sunday.