The New England Patriots’ road to the playoffs is a simple one: just win and you’re in. The team has two chances to do that: against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17, and the following Sunday versus the Miami Dolphins.
Winning both of those games would secure New England a spot in the tournament, regardless of any other results across the league. And according to SB Nation’s latest Reacts survey, a majority of Patriots fans is feeling confident in this outcome: 68 percent believe that the team will end the regular season with back to back wins, heading into the playoffs with an 11-6 record.
For comparison, only roughly 32 percent believe that New England will go 1-1 to end the year at 10-7. The number of Patriots fans thinking the team will lose out — thus finishing with four straight defeats — is negligible.
Bill Belichick’s team could qualify for the playoff tournament as early as Week 17. A win over the Jaguars in combination with losses by either the Dolphins or the Las Vegas Raiders — they face the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, respectively — would allow the Patriots to punch their ticket to the postseason no matter how next week’s game in Miami goes down.
Obviously, though, the Patriots’ goal is to finish the season 2-0. Not only would such a record allow them to carry some much-needed momentum into the playoffs, it would also put New England in a position to win the AFC East.
The current division leaders, the Buffalo Bills, are tied with the Patriots at 9-6 at the moment and only take the top spot due to an advantageous in-division tiebreaker. Any losses by the Bills, however, might allow New England to slip past them again to take the top spot in the AFC East once more.
No matter what happens with Buffalo, though, going 2-0 would put New England in a good spot heading into the true do-or-die portion of the season.
The Patriots’ fan confidence meter reflects this view as well: even after back-to-back losses, 83 percent of fans participating in the Reacts survey feel good about where the team is headed.