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Week 13 Patriots Playoff Picture: Homefield Advantage at 72%

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The Patriots inch closer and closer to the playoffs. Here's how they stand.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

(all numbers courtesy of 538)

I don't think there's any question that the Patriots now have the biggest shoulder blade target in the league, even if they lose a close battle in Green Bay. I also don't think this is a team that will let that get to their heads- they'll just play harder and better and smarter.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told old friend Randy Mossduring the pregame show, that even a future Hall of Fame quarterback has feelings. He talked about how he does listen to the noise, how he did hear all the criticism after the Chiefs debacle. He said that it was the first time that he felt overly antagonized in his tenure with the Patriots.

He also talked about how he and the team rallied around their struggles and decided to improve. Improve they have.

New England has been in the driver's seat of the AFC for a while and they've almost gotten through the toughest stretch on their calendar- the Broncos, @Colts, Lions, @Packers streak is one of the most brutal for any team all season.

That said, the team still has to travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers (they're flying out west directly after the Packers game. My friend Tim said they're having a slumber party at Brady's mansion; rookies on the floor, vets get the couches).

Then they host a redemption game against the Dolphins, which could very well lock up the division for New England (although if the Patriots win the next two, and the Dolphins lose @Jets and home against the Ravens, the Patriots will have the division sealed before the rematch). There's a tough game @Jets the following week for the Patriots, which is never easy, and then a week 17 game to hopefully put the Bills down for a long off-season.

Three divisional games, a division leader, and then a visit to the West Coast. The season's not locked up yet.

Currently, the Patriots lead the AFC with a 9-2 record and have a de facto two game lead over the 8-3 Broncos by the nature of a head-to-head victory. The seemingly mortal Broncos head to Kansas City in their second win-win game for the Patriots (the Chiefs are honestly the only team in the AFC to not use wide receivers, which nullifies the Patriots secondary advantage) and then later they have to travel to the Chargers and to the Bengals. It's very possible they'll drop one or two more games, although it's not something to bank on.

Denver's victory over the Dolphins helped out the Patriots playoff chances. Per 538, the Dolphins losing was more important to the Patriots divisional title than the Patriots beating Detroit as Miami should've been penciling in this game as a loss all season. Unexpected victories throw wrenches into projections, but the Dolphins loss-on-schedule and the Patriots win over the Lions boosted New England's playoff chances to 99%, and the odds for another divisional crown to 95%.

New England is currently set up with an 89% chance of a first round bye and home field advantage at 72%. Home field advantage is a two-team race between the Patriots and the Broncos, while there's only a fighter's chance that they both don't receive a first round bye.

There are now 10 teams in the AFC over .500, with the Bills a possible 11th if they can beat the Jets in Detroit. If the Ravens can beat the Saints, then all four AFC North teams will have 7 victories under their belt, along with the 7-win Chiefs and Chargers out west, and the Colts in the (divisional) South. The 6-win Dolphins and hypothetical-Bills will be on the outside looking in. If Miami can't beat the Ravens, then they're probably out of the playoffs due to tiebreakers and the sheer depth of competition.

New England is sitting pretty. They won't be able to exhale for a few more weeks.