The Patriots have had their inconsistencies throughout the season, but with a few weeks left in the season, they have a chance at making the playoffs.
New England has a chance at making the playoffs, but there are two drastically different ways they can make it in. The Patriots either control their destiny for the most part and win all of their remaining games. Then, root against the Chargers. Or they lose some, then depend on other teams to win or lose to get a spot. At 7-7, New England will need a little help from other teams, but their play can still be the largest factor that determines if they make the playoffs.
Frankly, the level that they brought to Vegas will not cut it when it comes to both making the playoffs and showing any kind of dignity once they are there. So first and foremost, elevation of their play, both in terms of scheme and execution, will be crucial to stand a chance.
Teams The Patriots Are Competing With
Teams that the Patriots are competing with for a spot include the New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, And Miami Dolphins. The Ravens could also be a team that New England starts to compete with as Lamar Jackson got injured and the Ravens may start to lose some games, even if Tyler Huntley has shown himself to be a serviceable backup. Both the Jets and the Chargers have relatively easy schedules ahead of them, so it is important that the Patriots can win all of their remaining games. If they cannot, New England needs teams like the Chargers and Jets to drop some games.
A team that most likely could fall below New England are the Dolphins. At one point the Dolphins were way ahead of the Patriots, however they are on a skid. If New England can beat the Miami Dolphins, it would be huge going forward. Both teams may finish around the same record, so splitting with the Dolphins would be huge.
Since the Bengals have the lead for the AFC North now, the best-case scenario for the Patriots is that Ravens just get eliminated completely, if there already is an AFC North playoff team. With Lamar Jackson injured, and the Ravens still needing to play the Steelers and Bengals again, New England should hope for the Ravens losing both of those games. Currently, the Ravens are ranked as the fifth seed, and if they start to skid and fall out of the playoffs, New England has a chance of potentially getting the sixth seed if things go their way.
The New York Jets have had a similar record to the Patriots for most of the year, and this is the time the Patriots need to start getting some separation. New England has both of the tie-breakers, so if the Jets can lose a game or two and New England can win they likely won’t be much of a threat to New England. The New York Jets still play the Jaguars, Seahawks, and Dolphins. The Jets dropping one or two of those games would be great for New England going forward.
Win All Of The Games Remaining
This would be the best-case scenario for the Patriots, and probably, based on the level shown by some of the other teams in this mix, the one they will have to execute. What can happen in the NFL is unpredictable, so the Patriots controlling their own destiny would be the best scenario on the board. However, since New England lost against the Raiders, the Patriots will need one loss from the Chargers.
New England has numerous tough games remaining. New England still plays the Dolphins, Bills, and Bengals. All three of those teams are playing like Super Bowl contenders and showing a high level of execution on all sides of the ball. The ideal scenario would be to win all those games, but there is a decent chance that the Patriots drop some of those games.
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