After losing control for the top seed in the AFC playoffs thanks to two horrific losses in a row, the Patriots were able to regain control. As of today, they stand one win away from getting it. As I've said all season, 13 wins will clinch Home Field. The Patriots will face a 9-5 Jets team looking to get into the playoffs but needs help to clinch and a Miami team looking to evaluate personnel for a new coaching staff next year. The Patriots can rest their key players in Week 17 if they beat the Jets on Sunday.
One big reason why the Patriots will likely win the #1 seed is the help they received from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers knocked down both Cincinnati and Denver in the last two weeks. The Steelers need help from the Patriots to clinch a Wild Card spot in Week 16 by beating the Jets. So we can assume they'll make it and really the only AFC race left is the South division. I'm already anticipating a showdown between the two teams for the Divisional Round.
Winning the top seed in Week 16 will be huge because the Patriots can rest their injured key players like Rob Gronkowski and Dont'a Hightower. We need those two as healthy as possible for the playoffs in order to make a Super Bowl run. The good news is that the Patriots will have key players returning from injury for the playoffs, because this is the best team in the NFL when healthy. The best path to the Super Bowl is home games at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots win about 90% of the time. Let's hope the Patriots give their fans a belated Christmas present.