The Patriots entered Week 18 with the ability to finish in every possible postseason position. They ultimately wound up pretty much where they started.
Heading into Week 18 the Patriots were matched up with Buffalo in a 4-5 meeting. The Bills slid up a spot while the Patriots dropped one, therefore making Saturday night's wild card game between the two a 3-6 affair. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. in Orchard Park, N.Y.
The Patriots 33-24 loss in Miami took away any chances for New England to move up, a scenario that was eliminated anyway when Buffalo put the finishing touches on a 27-10 win over the Jets to clinch the AFC East title. The Bills win, coupled with Cincinnati's loss in Cleveland, allowed the teams to switch spots with Buffalo moving up from 4 to 3.
The late game basically amounted to a win or go home affair and the Raiders did just that, sending the Chargers home and securing the fifth seed in the process. Pittsburgh's overtime win over Baltimore, coupled with Indy's shocking loss at Jacksonville earlier in the day put the Steelers in the playoffs as the 7 seed and sent the Colts packing. The Steelers came perilously close to missing out as the Raiders booted a game-winning field goal on the final play of overtime to avoid a tie that would have allowed both Las Vegas and the Chargers to advance.
Tops seeds Tennessee (No.1) and Kansas City (2) won to remain in their spots. The Titans will enjoy the first-round bye while the Chiefs will host Pittsburgh in prime time on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bengals will host Las Vegas at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Patriots and Bills will now meet for the third time in six weeks after splitting the first two. New England won a 14-10 slugfest in heavy winds on a Monday night in December before dropping the rematch in Week 16 in Foxborough. The weather figures to be a huge factor as Josh Allen and the Bills passing game were largely stymied in the tough conditions while the Patriots were content to have Mac Jones attempt just three passes in the win.
So the teams will meet once again under the bright prime time lights in Buffalo, only this time the loser's season will be over.