At 6-7 with just three games left on the schedule for the New England Patriots, their chances of making the playoffs are relatively slim. With the Buffalo Bills win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, it became official that the Patriots would not win the AFC East for the first time since 2008. The only way the Patriots can make playoffs is through one of the three wild card spots.
The three wild card spots are currently occupied by the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and Miami Dolphins. Of the three, the Patriots have the best shot of catching the Dolphins. The Patriots would also need to jump ahead of the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders, who are ahead of the Patriots in the hunt for a wild card spot. Before diving deeper, it goes without saying that the Patriots are going to need a lot of help to sneak into the playoffs. We will take a look at the upcoming schedules of the Dolphins, Ravens, and Raiders to see what would need to happen for the Patriots to sneak into the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens
Obviously, the Dolphins will need to lose in order for the Patriots to stay alive. Couple that with what should be an easy win for the Ravens, the Dolphins would fall out of the seventh wild card spot and the Ravens would be in the #7 seed for the time being. The more intriguing game will be the Raiders game. The Raiders will play the Dolphins in Week 16, and that game could have a huge impact on the Patriots chances. The Raiders are currently a mess, having just fired their defensive coordinator after an awful showing in last week’s game vs the Colts. There is a chance that the Chargers could come away with a win in this game, which would be huge because the Patriots hold the tiebreaker over the Raiders after beating them in their Week 3 contest. In this scenario, the Patriots and Raiders sit at 7-7, the Dolphins at 8-6, and the Ravens at 9-5.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders
New York Giants vs. Baltimore Ravens
Once again, the Patriots will need to win here against the Bills. The Patriots were close to pulling this off in their previous matchup before an untimely Cam Newton fumble, so it may not be asking too much. The other two games could have huge implications. Assuming the teams are at their previously stated records, the Patriots would be rooting for the Raiders to pull out a win. This would put all three teams at 8-7, and would result in the Patriots holding the tiebreaker over both teams (the Patriots beat the Dolphins all the way back in Week 1, and conceivably Week 15 in this scenario). The issue becomes the Ravens. The Giants looked like a team with a new fire in them under Joe Judge, before getting stumped by the Arizona Cardinals this previous week. The Giants could conceivably pull off an upset against a Ravens team that has certainly looked vulnerable at times this year. If they do, the Ravens would only hold a one game advantage over the Patriots, making Week 17 very interesting.
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Patriots should have no problem beating the hapless Jets, but would need the Bengals to somehow beat the Ravens. As far-fetched as the Giants beating the Ravens seems, this is even more so. However, in the event the Ravens were to lose this game, and the Patriots win, the Patriots would grab the #7 wild card spot, as they also hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens from their Week 10 matchup.
So to wrap this up, the Patriots are going to need a lot of luck. They will need the Raiders to lose one game, and the Ravens and Dolphins to lose two games, while simultaneously winning their next three games. It seems like wishful thinking to assume the Patriots will win all three of their next games regardless. Yet even if they do, their playoff hopes most likely got crushed during last night’s Ravens win over the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens have a ridiculosuly easy slate of games over the upcoming three weeks, and they should be able to easily beat all three of their next opponents. But it isn’t over until it’s over, and should everything go like just outlined, the Patriots would find themselves in the playoffs. Just don’t get your hopes up.