The New England Patriots did not put on their cleats this weekend, but were still among the big winners of the NFL’s Week 10 despite being on a bye. After all, three of the games that took place on Sunday unfolded in the team’s favor and created more wiggle room for the world champions as they are heading into their most difficult stretch of the season — despite the Baltimore Ravens, the current No. 2 seed, winning their game against Cincinnati.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the three contests in question:
Kansas City Chiefs lose against the Tennessee Titans
Even though reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes was back in the lineup for the Chiefs after a two-game absence, he was unable to lead his team to victory: Kansas City took a nine-point lead early in the fourth period but due to some horrendous defense and special teams play — two field goal attempts in the final 1:30 were unsuccessful — ultimately came up short on the road and lost fell to the Titans with a final score of 35-32.
The Chiefs’ defeat is good news for the Patriots, who will host Mahomes and company in Week 14. The team, after all, is one of the most talented in football and a competitor for a first-round playoff bye and the number one seed in the AFC. After losing in Tennessee, however, Kansas City now owns a 6-4 record and is currently the fourth seed in the conference — three games behind New England.
Buffalo Bills lose against the Cleveland Browns
Entering Week 10, the Bills were only 1.5 games behind the Patriots in the race for the AFC East title. While anything but New England winning the division for a record-extending 11th straight year would have been a major surprise, the club of head coach Sean McDermott was still very much in contention. Sunday’s 19-16 loss against the previously 2-6 Cleveland Browns, however, changes the picture even more in the Patriots’ favor.
But while the division crown is further away now than it was at this time last week, the Bills are still in a good position when it comes to earning a spot in the postseason for just the second time this century: Buffalo is the current fifth seed in the conference with a 6-3 record, ahead of three teams who are 5-4. One of those teams dropped out of the current playoff picture on Sunday by losing to another team from the AFC East:
Indianapolis Colts lose against the Miami Dolphins
After already losing Andrew Luck to retirement during the preseason, the Colts also lost new starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett because of a knee injury. With Brissett out of the equation at least for one week, Indianapolis had to turn to another former Patriot to lead the offense: Brian Hoyer was inserted into the starting lineup, but his performance was far from convincing. The veteran completed less than 50% of his passes, and threw three interceptions.
With the offense struggling to move the football on a consistent basis, and with kicker Adam Vinatieri missing another extra point, the Dolphins were able to leave Indianapolis with a 16-12 victory — the second in a row for the club. This result is good for the Patriots on two levels:
1.) It pushes the Colts, one of the few AFC competitors not on New England’s schedule this year, down to 5-4 and the eighth seed in the conference.
2.) It puts the Dolphins in a bad position to earn the first overall draft pick next year; the team is now two games behind the 0-9 Cincinnati Bengals.
With Week 10 now in the books from the AFC’s perspective, the Patriots remain the top seed in the conference and well on their way to earn at least a first-round playoff bye:
1. New England Patriots (8-1)
2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
3. Houston Texans (6-3)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
5. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
In the hunt: Oakland Raiders (5-4), Indianapolis Colts (5-4), Tennessee Titans (5-5)