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Patriots clinching scenarios: How New England can earn a playoff berth against the Jaguars in Week 17

Related: NFL playoff picture: Patriots drop to sixth seed in the AFC after Week 16 loss against Bills

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ playoff outlook has changed a bit since their Week 14 bye. While heading into their weekend off on the inside track to earn the AFC’s top seed and lone first-round bye, back-to-back losses have dropped them down to the sixth spot in the standings.

Despite their recent slump, however, the Patriots are still in a promising position as far as making the playoffs is concerned. In fact, they might be able to punch their ticket to the tournament as early as this week.

In order for that to happen, however, New England will need some assistance. A look at this week’s playoff clinching scenarios illustrates this.

New England clinches playoff birth with:

  1. NE win + MIA loss or tie OR
  2. NE win + LV loss or tie OR
  3. NE tie + MIA loss + LV loss + LAC loss or tie OR
  4. NE tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR
  5. NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
  6. NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + MIA win + BUF win

There are other clinching scenarios for the Patriots that involve multiple tie games.

The Patriots’ path to the playoffs starts with them winning their Week 17 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. One of the worst teams in football and at 2-13 on the way to earning the first overall pick in next year’s draft, the Jaguars are clear underdogs versus New England. The Patriots should win that game, despite their recent issues.

If that indeed happens, they will turn their attention to the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. If either one of those two teams loses on top of a New England victory, the club will return to the playoffs after its one-year hiatus.

The Dolphins and Raiders are realistic candidates to drop their games given that they are both listed as underdogs by DraftKings Sportsbook heading into Week 17. Miami will visit the Tennessee Titans at a projected 3.5-point disadvantage, while Las Vegas will go up against the Indianapolis Colts as 6.5-point underdogs.

Obviously, though, it all starts with the Patriots themselves. If they cannot beat the lowly Jaguars, all of those scenarios are for naught.