For the first time in forever, the New England Patriots lost consecutive games during the month of December. Once seen as key players for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Patriots currently find themselves on the outside looking in for a bye week. That said, the Patriots playoff seeding is far from locked in. There’s still a lot of football to be played, so let’s take a look at the updated Patriots playoff picture heading into Week 16.
Updated New England Patriots Playoff Picture
The Number Two Seed
The Patriots are still alive in the race for home-field advantage, mathematically speaking. However, so many crazy things would need to happen that it’s all-but-impossible for New England to accomplish that goal. However, they still have a realistic shot at the number two seed.
They’d need some help, but getting this seed starts with New England winning out. The Patriots face two AFC East rivals in the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at home. Fortunately, New England is 6-0 at home this season, so it seems likely that they’ll win those two games. However, they’d also need the Houston Texans to lose one of their remaining games.
This doesn’t seem likely, although it looks more likely than it did a week ago. The Texans take on Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. Replacing an injured Carson Wentz, Foles led the Eagles to a stunning 30-23 upset victory against the Los Angeles Rams. At 7-7, the Eagles are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt and will give Houston everything they have. Foles owes the Patriots a favor after last years’ Super Bowl, so perhaps the Eagles can pull off an upset for the second straight week.
In Week 17, the Texans host a terrible Cody Kessler–led Jacksonville Jaguars squad. They’re not losing that game, so all hope lies with the Eagles.
The Number Three Seed
As of this moment, it looks like the Patriots will enter the playoffs with the number three seed. If they win out and Houston doesn’t lose again, New England will hold their three seed. Despite losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England currently has a half-game lead on the black and gold in the playoff seeding. As long as the Patriots take care of business, they’ll earn the reward of facing the lesser wild card team.
The Number Four Seed
Of course, should the Patriots drop a game, they could very well end up with the number four seed. As previously mentioned, the Steelers would take the four seed if they win out and New England drops one of their remaining contests. However, there’s another dark horse in the Baltimore Ravens who could steal the Number Three seed from the Patriots. If the Ravens win out and both the Patriots and Steelers drop one of their remaining games, Baltimore would win the AFC North and finish with an identical record as the Patriots. Seeding would then come down to the common game tiebreaker.
However, this scenario doesn’t seem very likely. Even if the Patriots drop a game, it’s unlikely that the Ravens and Steelers both win out. The Steelers travel to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, and will be road underdogs. Likewise, the Baltimore Ravens have to face off against a powerful Los Angeles Chargers team in Week 16. Anything is possible, but the Chargers should win that game.
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