Six teams in each conference – four division winners and two wild cards – make the playoffs. The two division winners with the best records in each conference earn first-round byes.
The Patriots second consecutive loss, coupled with Houston's win at the Jets, dropped New England to the No. 3 seed in the AFC entering Week 16. The Chiefs and Chargers are battling for the AFC West title with the winner in line for the top seed in the conference. The Texans need to win their final two games in order to capture the second bye. Otherwise they would need help from another Patriots loss.
There are still a number of scenarios that need to play out but we'll offer some Patriots-specific options to look for in the final two weeks.
To win the AFC East:
Patriots need a win or a Miami loss or tie in either Week 16 or 17.
To gain No. 2 seed:
Patriots need two wins coupled with one Houston loss. (Patriots hold tiebreaker over Texans based on head-to-head victory).
To gain No. 1 seed:
Patriots need two wins and two losses from both Los Angeles and Kansas City.
|Chiefs||11-3||4-1||9-2||at Sea., Oak.|
|Texans||10-4||3-2||8-3||at Phi., Jax.|
|Steelers||8-5-1||3-1-1||5-5-1||at NO, Cin.|
|Chargers||11-3||3-2||8-2||Bal., at Den.|
|Ravens||8-6||2-3||6-4||at LAC, Cle.|
|IN THE HUNT|
|Colts||8-6||3-2||6-5||NYG, at Ten.|
|Dolphins||7-7||4-1||6-4||Jax., at Buf.|
|Browns||6-7-1||2-1-1||4-5-1||Cin., at Bal.|