A postseason bye had been in the New England Patriots’ hands for nine consecutive years.
That streak ended Sunday at Gillette Stadium, in 27-24 fashion against the Miami Dolphins, as New England fell to the No. 3 seed in the AFC to close December.
Wild-card weekend is now in the plans for the 12-4 Patriots. As are head coach Mike Vrabel’s 9-7 Tennessee Titans, on the heels of a 211-yard, three-touchdown performance by NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry to punch a ticket to January.
New England and Tennessee, checking in as the conference’s No. 6 seed after Sunday’s 35-14 win over the resting Houston Texans, last crossed paths for joint practices and an August exhibition.
Kickoff in Foxborough is set for 8:15 p.m. ET next Saturday. A win over the Titans would send the Patriots to Arrowhead Stadium to face the second-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated New England by a score of 23-16 in early December after falling in last year’s AFC Championship Game.
As for the rest of the league’s 2020 playoff slate, here’s an initial glance.
Saturday, Jan. 4 – 4:35 p.m. ET: No. 5 Buffalo Bills at No. 4 Houston Texans
Saturday, Jan. 4 – 8:15 p.m. ET: No. 6 Tennessee Titans at No. 3 New England Patriots
Sunday, Jan. 5 – 1:05 p.m. ET: No. 6 Minnesota Vikings at No. 3 New Orleans Saints
Sunday, Jan. 5 – 4:40 p.m. ET: No. 5 Seattle Seahawks at No. 4 Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, Jan. 11 – 8:15 p.m. ET: Texans, Bills or Titans at No. 1 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, Jan. 12 – 3:05 p.m. ET: Patriots, Texans or Bills at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs
Saturday, Jan. 11 – 4:35 p.m. ET: Eagles, Seahawks or Vikings at No. 1 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Jan. 12 – 6:40 p.m. ET: Saints, Eagles or Seahawks at No. 2 Green Bay Packers