After defeating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, the New England Patriots 2020 season may have life. New England’s rushing attack led the way as second year running back, Damien Harris, racked up 121 yards on 22 attempts. Furthermore, the Patriots defense played one of their best games of the season with Chase Winovich accounting for seven total tackles and 10 quarterback pressures. Additionally, rookie Kyle Dugger played one of the best games of his young career as he led the team in total tackles with 12. With a 4-5 record and seven games still to play, the New England Patriots playoff hopes are still very much alive.
New England Patriots Playoff Path
While the Patriots are highly unlikely to catch the 7-3 Buffalo Bills for an AFC East divisional title, playing their way into a Wild Card spot is very possible. Currently, the Patriots are ranked as the 10th seed in the AFC and are on the outside looking in. However, with the newly expanded playoffs which will feature seven teams per conference, New England could easily make up ground in the upcoming weeks.
Teams Blocking the Path
Unlike past years, there are several quality middle-of-the-pack AFC teams who pose a threat to the New England Patriots playoff hopes. For example, while the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0), Kansas City Chiefs (8-1), and Buffalo Bills (7-3) likely will not fall back to the pack, there are a handful of teams who very much could. Teams such as the Indianapolis Colts (6-3), Las Vegas Raiders (6-3), Miami Dolphins (6-3), Baltimore Ravens (6-3), Tennessee Titans (6-3), and Cleveland Browns (6-3) will all be fighting for playoff seeding.
New England will have to go on a strong run in order to get themselves in the playoff sweepstakes. However, this is certainly not a given as the Patriots remaining games are against the Houston Texans (2-7), Arizona Cardinals (6-3), Los Angeles Chargers (2-7), Los Angeles Rams (6-3), Miami Dolphins (6-3), Buffalo Bills (7-3), and New York Jets (0-9). The only game which should be an automatic win for this Patriots team is Week 17 against the Jets. Otherwise, even the 2-7 Texans and 2-7 Chargers have talented rosters with talented quarterbacks that very much have the ability to beat New England.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of talented middling teams, a record of 8-8 likely will not get the Patriots into the playoffs. However, if New England can go 6-2 or 7-1 down the stretch and finish either 9-7 or 10-6, they have a real shot of not only getting into the playoffs, but also finishing as a middle seed. Of the other nine teams currently in the playoff picture, New England has tie-breakers over the Raiders as well as Ravens. Furthermore, the Patriots will also have opportunities to take tie-breakers over Miami and, should they slip, Buffalo.
The Patriots are facing a situation which, quite frankly, they are complete strangers to. A 6-2 or 7-1 tear to close out the season feels very possible given the coaching of Bill Belichick. Although, this is also the same team who lost to the 3-6 Denver Broncos along with getting blown out by the San Francisco 49ers. This Patriots team could easily fall apart as the season continues, but this much is clear, a path to the playoffs certainly exists for New England.