New England has clinched its first playoff berth in three seasons, thanks to a loss by Seattle Sunday afternoon.
The New York Giants rallied to defeat the Seahawks 27-24 and send the Patriots to the postseason for the first time since 1998. The Patriots 20-13 win over Miami Saturday put the team in sole possession of first place since 1999, when New England opened the season 4-0.
Heading into their bye week, New England has higher goals within reach. With a victory at Carolina in Week 17 couple with just one loss by the Jets in their final three games, the Patriots would be the AFC East champions. New England is currently the third seed in the AFC, but an Oakland loss either at Denver or at home against the Jets would open a shot at a first-round bye.
Even without a bye, the Patriots will most likely host a playoff game as long as they defeat Carolina in the finale. With a victory over the Panthers, the worst New England could do is be the top wild card team. If the Jets defeat Indianapolis Sunday night, New York would be the fourth seed, Miami would be the fifth seed and Baltimore the sixth and final playoff team.
The other three teams still technically alive are Seattle, Denver and Tennessee. All three teams are 7-7 and need help to get themselves into the playoffs.