The Patriots may have played their best game of the season in a 24-17 win over the Bills on Saturday and in doing so clinched their 11th straight AFC East division title. A win against Miami in Week 17 will clinch a first-round bye as well.
That's about where the good news ends in terms of postseason ramifications in Week 16. Both Baltimore and Kansas City won, so the Ravens clinched the 1 seed and home field throughout the playoffs and the Chiefs kept the heat on New England in the fight for the 2 seed.
A Chiefs win over the Chargers coupled with a Dolphins upset of the Patriots would cause the teams to swap positions, meaning the Patriots would be forced to play on wild card weekend as the third seed. While a Patriots win over Miami would seem to be a relatively sure thing, the fact that Kansas City won makes it difficult for Bill Belichick to rest some starters in the finale.
Elsewhere in the AFC, only the final spot remains up for grabs. The Texans can still leapfrog Kansas City by winning at home against the Titans if the Chiefs lose to the Chargers due to their head-to-head victory earlier in the season. Buffalo is locked into the 5 seed after losing their chance to win the division on Saturday.
Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Oakland are still alive and vying for the sixth and final spot. The Titans currently are in by virtue of a stronger strength of victory over Pittsburgh and would capture the 6 seed with a win while the Steelers can do so by winning and having Tennessee lose or tie. The Raiders need a variety of scenarios to unfold, including beating the Broncos and having Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Indy all lose.
It may not be worth wasting much energy over, but it would seem that the best-case scenario for the Patriots here would by a Tennessee win. The Titans earning the last spot and therefore likely heading to Kansas City the following week in the 3-6 matchup would represent the most difficult potential opponent for the Chiefs. Again, not a major deal but something to think about as Week 17 unfolds.
Here's a look at the standings heading into the final week of the 2019 season:
|New England (xy)||12-3||5-0||8-3||Mia.|
|Kansas City (xy)||11-4||5-0||8-3||LAC|
- (y) Clinched Division Title
- (x) Clinched Playoff Berth
- (*) Clinched Homefield Advantage in Playoffs