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Patriots Playoff Scenarios: Week 15

Only three weeks left in the regular season; time for games with playoff implications.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With New England's 23-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night, the Patriots not only clinched their 12th straight ten win season, but they also set themselves up very nicely for the upcoming slate of games. By now we're all more than aware that the division is well within New England's grasp, as the Patriots clinch the AFC East with a win over the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. Easy enough; if the Pats win on Sunday, the worst they can finish is 11-5, and the best either the Dolphins or Bills can finish is 10-6, which will give them the division.

However, there are also a few scenarios, albeit complicated ones, in which the Patriots can clinch both the AFC East and a first round bye. They can't clinch the one seed on Sunday, but they can walk out of Sunday's game with at least the two seed if one of the following two scenarios takes place:

  • Patriots win + Colts loss + Steelers loss or tie + Bengals loss or tie
  • Patriots win + Colts loss + Steelers loss or tie + Broncos loss or tie

Not only that, but the Patriots can actually afford to drop their matchup with Miami and still make the postseason on Sunday. The Patriots don't clinch the division, but do clinch a playoff spot, with a loss combined with:

  • Bills loss or tie + Bengals loss + Chiefs loss or tie + Chargers loss
  • Bills loss or tie + Texans loss or tie + Chiefs loss or tie + Chargers loss + Ravens loss

As for the opponents:

  • Indy plays Houston
  • Pittsburgh plays Atlanta
  • Cincy plays Cleveland
  • Denver plays San Diego
  • Buffalo plays Green Bay
  • KC plays Oakland
  • Baltimore plays Jacksonville

Got all that?

The bottom line is win and in. That's all we should be concerning ourselves with at the moment, and that's all the Pats can actually control. But there are a lot of meaningful games to watch this Sunday, so I advise you all to follow my lead and get your couch's butt groove good and ready now so you don't find yourself out of position when it matters most.