The New England Patriots are back in the playoff picture. While their 27-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football was not necessarily a postseason-worthy display of strength, especially on the offensive side of the ball, it did help them move up into the seventh seed in a crowded AFC.
Now at 7-6, the Patriots have the inside track to earn a playoff spot:
- Buffalo Bills (10-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
- Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
- Tennessee Titans (7-6)
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
- Miami Dolphins (8-5)
- New England Patriots (7-6)
While New England owns tiebreakers over the Los Angeles Chargers (better conference record) and New York Jets (head-to-head) at the moment, a lot can still change over the final four weeks of the season. That is especially true given who the wild card competitors will be facing down the stretch.
The Patriots, for example, face a daunting end-of-season schedule that includes games against the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins before the finale in Buffalo. The Chargers, for comparison, will be going up against the Titans, Colts, Rams and Broncos — a significantly easier slate on paper.
Accordingly, New England still faces worse odds to make the playoffs than the AFC West team: FiveThirtyEight calculates the Patriots’ playoff odds at 39 percent following Monday’s win, compared to 55 percent for the Chargers. The Jets check in at 33 percent.
Needless to say, the Patriots still have a long way to go despite getting back beyond .500 and ahead of both the Chargers and Jets now.
The NFC playoff picture, for comparison, looks as follows:
- Philadelphia Eagles (12-1)
- Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
- San Francisco 49ers (9-4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
- Dallas Cowboys (10-3)
- Washington Commanders (7-5-1)
- New York Giants (7-5-1)
Not technically eliminated but let’s be real here: 10. Green Bay Packers (5-8), 11. Carolina Panthers (5-8), 12. Atlanta Falcons (5-8), 13. Arizona Cardinals (4-9), 14. New Orleans Saints (4-9), 15. Los Angeles Rams (4-9)
Eliminated: 16 Chicago Bears (3-10)
The Cardinals have dropped down one spot due to their loss to New England. Entering Week 14 with just four wins, however, their outlook would not have been particularly encouraging even with a victory over New England.