The New England Patriots entered their Week 14 bye as the number one playoff seed in the AFC and in the driver’s seat to earn a first-round bye. Back-to-back losses later, the Patriots have dropped all the way down to the sixth position in what is a wide-open conference.
The first of those losses happened against the Indianapolis Colts, who now own the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England. The second came versus the Buffalo Bills, who have a better in-division record and are thus now the leaders in the AFC East.
The playoff picture as a whole looks as follows:
- Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) (clinched AFC West)
- Tennessee Titans (10-5)
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
- Buffalo Bills (9-6)
- Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
- New England Patriots (9-6)
- Miami Dolphins (8-7)
Even with the Chiefs having clinched the AFC West title on Sunday, the conference remains highly contested. A total of 13 teams still have mathematical chances of sneaking into the playoffs.
The Patriots are only one game ahead of the Dolphins, Chargers, Raiders and Ravens, but they are still in a promising position as far as entering the tournament is concerned. According to FiveThirtyEight, New England’s odds have been calculated at 94 percent; the Patriots can officially clinch their spot in the tournament this week by beating the Jaguars and either the Dolphins or Raiders losing to the Titans and Colts, respectively.
The NFC’s playoff picture, meanwhile, looks as follows:
- Green Bay Packers (12-3) (clinched NFC North)
- Dallas Cowboys (11-4) (clinched NFC East)
- Los Angeles Rams (11-4) (clinched playoffs)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) (clinched NFC South)
- Arizona Cardinals (10-5) (clinched playoffs)
- San Francisco 49ers (8-7)
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 11. Washington Football Team (6-9)
The top-heavy NFC continues to be just that. Three teams have already clinched their divisions, with only the NFC West still in contention: the Rams and Cardinals are competing for the title, with the 49ers also in a good spot as far as making the playoffs is concerned.