The Patriots take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend and, despite a two-game losing streak, could very well clinch a postseason playoff spot with a victory and just a little bit of help from a couple of AFC rivals.
After last week's complicated playoff algorithm, things get much simpler this week for New England, but it all starts by knocking off the Jags and getting the team's 10th win of the season.
After that, there are two key games to focus on.
Raiders at Colts
The Raiders and Colts are both sitting in second place in their respective divisions, with the Colts just one game behind the Titans. The Raiders might not have any chance of overtaking the 11-4 Chiefs, but their playoff hopes would be very much alive if they're to pull off the upset of Indy. The streaking Colts are also dealing with Carson Wentz landing on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, putting the starting quarterback's status up in the air for Sunday. Rookie Sam Ehlinger would start in place of Wentz if he is not cleared, and the Colts still have running back Jonathan Taylor.
For the Patriots it's clearly the Colts that Patriots fans should be rooting for, as an Indy win knocks the Raiders out of playoff contention and could lock up the Pats' playoff spot.
Patriots fans say: Go Colts!
Dolphins at Titans
The Dolphins have won seven straight and will be waiting for the Patriots in Miami for next week's regular-season finale, but as the current seventh seed in the AFC Miami has to keep pace after one of the streakiest seasons in NFL history. The injury-ravaged Titans are starting to get healthy and made a statement win last week over the 49ers. With their one-game lead over the Colts, they'll be looking to keep their home playoff game hopes alive by knocking off Miami. The Titans might not have Derrick Henry back yet, but A.J. Brown's return is more than enough to resurrect hopes for a playoff run in Tennessee.
For the Patriots, they're rooting for the Titans, as a Miami loss combined with a Patriots win would also be enough to secure a playoff spot for New England.
Patriots fans say: Go Titans!
Falcons at Bills
After the Bills knocked off the Patriots last week, it put the road to the AFC East championship firmly in their hands with two home games to go. The Bills will face the Falcons this weekend and then the Jets in the season finale. Expecting the Bills to falter may be wishful thinking but with the Falcons' playoff hopes still barely alive, Atlanta does have something to play for.
It might be a long shot for the underdog Falcons this week but it's obvious who Pats fans should be rooting for.
Pats fans say: Go Falcons!
Here are the full playoff scenarios for the Patriots this weekend:
New England clinches playoff berth with:
- NE win + MIA loss or tie OR
- NE win + LV loss or tie OR
- NE tie + MIA loss + LV loss + LAC loss or tie OR
- NE tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR
- NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
- NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + MIA win + BUF win