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NFL playoff picture: Patriots, once again, control their own destiny for home field advantage in January

The Patriots are in the driver seat holding the # 1 seed by two games in the AFC after seven weeks.

NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots improved to 7-0 on Monday night with a 33-0 thumping of the New York Jets which included another spectacular performance from the Patriots defense. The unit forced five turnovers — four of them being interceptions — in the team’s second divisional shutout on the road this season (the other being a 43-0 blowout against the Miami Dolphins).

The last few seasons, especially when nearing the halfway point of the year, the Patriots had found themselves neck-and-neck with other AFC teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos etc. for the top spot in the conference. However, this year that hasn’t been the case and the Patriots have a very comfortable lead when it comes to securing home field advantage come January.

After the Houston Texans went into Arrowhead Stadium last weekend and handed the Chiefs their second straight home loss, the focus on the top threat in the AFC quickly shifted to the team coached by ex-Patriot Bill O’Brien. However, Jacoby Brissett’s stellar performance this past Sunday put a hold to that as he and the Indianapolis Colts dominated the Texans to take over first place in the AFC South.

Now after the show Lamar Jackson put on in Seattle this past Sunday, the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens serve to be one of the Patriots’ toughest tests in determining their seeding; the two teams meet in just under two weeks.

Coming into the year many thought this would be the year the Chiefs take control of the AFC. However, after two home losses and now losing MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes for likely three weeks with a tough Green Bay team this week and followed by the streaking Vikings, the Chiefs will be fighting tooth and nail for the second or third spot in the conference’s playoff picture.

Seven weeks in and the Chiefs and Ravens are 5-2, the Colts are 4-2, the Texans 4-3 and then the Buffalo Bills, of course, at 5-1 with their lone loss coming from the Patriots.

All of a sudden, the Patriots hold a two-game lead on everybody in the AFC and show no signs of slowing down. And with New England still set to play the Ravens, Texans and Chiefs all in a five-week span, they could ensure the Road to Super Bowl LIV goes through Foxborough a lot earlier than we may have expected.