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GNOTD: Patriots Still Control Playoff Bye Week

Any little bit helps?

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

When the Denver Broncos lost to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football, the Patriots held the driver's seat for the number one seed and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Well, that advantage was brief and it slipped away like the end zone ball in Danny Amendola's hands (that was totally Sterling Moore'd by Michael Thomas, so kudos to Thomas for an awesome play). Instead of potentially having the number one seed, the Patriots were back to the number two slot, with the Cincinnati Bengals breathing down their neck.

The Bengals played the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night and, if they won, they would have bumped the Patriots down to the number three slot and out of a much needed first round bye. Fortunately for the Patriots, the Bengals came out flat and were wiped out by the unusually impotent Steelers.

Now, the Patriots still control their own destiny with regards to a first round bye. The hopes for homefield advantage are pretty much gone since it would now require both the Chiefs and the Broncos to lose a game. While the Chiefs may lose one, facing the fourth seed Indianapolis Colts and then traveling to face the San Diego Chargers who are one game behind in the wild card hunt, the Broncos get to travel to the Houston Texans (2-12) and the Oakland Raiders (4-10). Barring a miracle, the Patriots should just focus on locking up their division and the first round bye.

So there's your good news for today. Even after all of the struggles and the poor play, the Patriots still have the inside track at getting an extra week to heal and an extra week of not playing a do-or-die game. All the team needs to do is take care of business, and it starts with getting a win in Baltimore next week.

Baltimore plays Monday night against the Detroit Lions. If they win, they move into a tie with the Dolphins for the final wild card spot. If they lose, then they're a game back and will be even more desperate against the Patriots. Let's hope the Patriots can work on their game plan so a desperate team won't have a chance of coming back to win the game.