Which team do you want the Patriots to see in the playoffs? There are only a few actual possibilities.
If the Patriots lock up the top seed, then they won't be able to see either the Bengals or the Broncos until the AFC Championship game at the earliest. The #1 seed will play the lowest ranked team in the Divisional Round, which will be either the #4, #5, or #6 seed.
The #4 seed is likely the Houston Texans if they can defeat the Tennessee Titans, although the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars technically have outside shots at winning the division. The two wild card spots will go to the Chiefs, Jets, or Steelers. The Patriots have defeated all of these teams, other than the Chiefs, this season.
So who are the Patriots hoping to see make the playoffs? Or is that the wrong question?
"Those other games are really out of our control," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "And it seems like through experience, if you're rooting for one team one week then the next week you're rooting for somebody else. In the end whoever we play at this time of year is going to be a good team and we're going to have to play well.
"That's really the most important thing is us- not as much who we play or where we play or when we play, as playing well. I'd say the majority of my focus is on us."
And that's pretty fair. One week, Patriots fans were rooting for the Steelers to dethrone the Bengals and the Broncos to give the Patriots some breathing room atop the AFC (thanks, Pittsburgh!), but now the Steelers are regarded as the biggest threat to New England in the AFC. So I guess the aim is for Pittsburgh to miss the playoffs.
The Patriots just have to take care of business against the Jets to clinch the #1 seed and ensure the playoffs go through New England. Whatever else happens will happen.