With Week 17 almost in the books, the NFL announced the first two games of its final regular season weekend. A double-header on Saturday will lead into the finale on Sunday — a finale that will also feature the New England Patriots’ game against the Buffalo Bills.
However, the Patriots will also keep an eye on Saturday’s games:
- Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders: 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
- Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
Both of these games are relevant from a New England point of view.
The Chiefs are still competing with the Bills for the No. 1 seed in the AFC and associated first-round bye. Depending how things work out over the coming days, however, there is a chance they have either locked it up or are no longer in contention.
If Buffalo loses on Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals to close out Week 17, a Chiefs win on Saturday would end the race for the top seed in the conference in Kansas City’s favor. Likewise, a Bills win versus the Bengals paired with a Chiefs loss in Las Vegas would keep Buffalo atop the AFC heading into the playoffs.
In either case, there is an argument to be made for the Bills to give their starters some rest against the Patriots — an outcome that would play into New England’s hand: the team needs a win in Week 18 to control its own playoff fate.
As for the Titans and Jaguars, the Patriots would be rooting for a Jacksonville win here to get some wiggle room. Tennessee is one of three teams that have to lose — alongside Miami and Pittsburgh — for New England to qualify to the tournament even with a loss in Buffalo.
The rest of the Week 18 schedule will be announced during or after the Bills-Bengals game on Monday.