The New England Patriots had one of the best teams in football on the brink of defeat, but at the end of the day they came up just short: the visiting Dallas Cowboys were able to prevail thanks to a 35-yard touchdown in overtime. As a result of the game’s outcome, the Patriots now find themselves at 2-4 six games into their season.
There still is plenty of time for New England to turn things around, though, especially given how well the team has performed at times. And as a look at the current playoff picture in the AFC shows, there also is not much distance between the clubs in what is a highly competitive conference at this point in time:
- Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
- Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
- Tennessee Titans (4-2)
- Buffalo Bills (4-2)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
- Las Vegas Raiders (4-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
On the bubble: Denver Broncos (3-3), Kansas City Chiefs (3-3), Cleveland Browns (3-3), New England Patriots (2-4), Indianapolis Colts (2-4), New York Jets (1-4), Miami Dolphins (1-5), Houston Texans (1-5), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
After entering Week 6 as the ninth seed in the AFC, their loss to the Cowboys dropped the Patriots down two spots behind the emerging Steelers and Chiefs. As can be seen, though, they are not all that far behind Pittsburgh and even the five clubs currently owning a 4-2 record — including the AFC East’s own Bills.
That all said, climbing back into the playoff picture will still not be easy. Not only will New England have to get back into the win column and stay there for a prolonged period of time, other teams ahead of them also will have to start losing to fall behind.
All of that can very much happen, but the numbers are not in the Patriots’ favor at this point in time: according to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff predictions, New England currently has a 21 percent chance of making the postseason, down from 28 percent last week. Eleven teams in the conference have better odds than that right now.
As far as the NFC is concerned, its playoff picture currently looks as follows:
- Arizona Cardinals (6-0)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1)
- Green Bay Packers (5-1)
- Dallas Cowboys (4-1)
- Los Angeles Rams (5-1)
- New Orleans Saints (3-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (3-3)
On the bubble: Chicago Bears (3-3), Carolina Panthers (3-3), San Francisco 49ers (2-3), Atlanta Falcons (2-3), Washington Football Team (2-4), Philadelphia Eagles (2-4), Seattle Seahawks (2-4), New York Giants (1-5), Detroit Lions (0-6)
Despite beating the Patriots on Sunday, the Cowboys dropped three spots in the playoff picture from the second to the fourth seed. Seed No. 2 now belongs to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who beat Philadelphia on Thursday night to improve to 5-1.