The New England Patriots defeated the Cleveland Browns and moved to a 4-1 record and a 4-way tie atop the AFC. Other than a laughable performance by the Rams against the Bills, pretty much every game went in the Patriots favor this week.
The Dolphins and Jets lost to the Titans and Steelers, respectively, and dropped to 1-4. According to FiveThirtyEight data, teams that are 1-4 reach the playoffs just 5% of the time. While the two teams aren’t done for the year, they’re pretty darn close.
The Steelers did win as they moved to 4-1 and are a part of the 4-way tie with the Patriots. The two teams will face off in week 7 in Pittsburgh to determine which team will have the inside lane for playoff seedings. The current priority for the Patriots, however, is to lock up the division, so the Steelers beating the Jets was a good result for New England.
And speaking of playoff seeding, the Broncos fell at home to the Falcons, while the Raiders defeated the Chargers. Both teams are now 4-1, but the Raiders actually hold the tiebreakers and Oakland is the current #1 seed in the AFC. That’s right, the Broncos would actually be the #5 seed if the playoffs started today (it’s early, but worth noting). The Patriots really want to avoid playing in Denver, so seeing the Raiders atop the AFC West is a great sign.
The Ravens lost to Washington, while the Texans fell to the Vikings and now both teams are 3-2. The Ravens are the current #6 seed thanks to their head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills, while the Texans are still in charge of the horrible AFC South.
The Colts defeated the Bears, barely, but they’re such a bad team right now that I think the Patriots would rather see them in the playoffs than the Ravens.
The Bengals were destroyed by the Cowboys and Dallas revealed a lot of weaknesses in the Patriots week 6 opponent. The Bengals couldn’t stop the run and their offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback. The Patriots were handed a blueprint on how to approach their next opponent.
The Bills also beat the Rams, in what I would consider the only game that didn’t go in the Patriots favor on the week. Buffalo is riding a 3-game winning streak and face the (1-4) 49ers and the (1-4) Dolphins before hosting the Patriots in week 8. There’s a very real chance that the Bills could be 5-2 at that point and the AFC East lead will be on the line; the Patriots can’t allow the Bills to sweep the season series for the first time since 1999.
The Patriots did their job against a bad Browns team, while almost every other conference rival failed to do their job. The (4-1) Broncos face the (1-4) Chargers next week, the (3-2) Bills face the (1-4) 49ers, the (4-1) Steelers face the (1-4) Dolphins, the (4-1) Raiders face the (2-2) Chiefs, and the (1-4) Jets face the (2-3) Cardinals. It’s unlikely that all the dominoes will fall in the Patriots favor next week.
All the Patriots can do is play their best against the Bengals and hope that other teams trip up in week 6.