By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Hopes of a full day of rest for the Patriots’ starters went out the window late Sunday night, as the Chiefs’ hopes for the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture remained alive by way of their 26-3 win over the Bears.
Not that needing help from Mitch Trubisky should have ever been looked upon as a viable option, but the Patriots got absolutely none of it from the Bears, as they allowed the Chiefs the score the game’s first 17 points, and with the Bears held off the board until a field goal booted in the third quarter.
With the win, a Chiefs win over the Chargers in Week 17, coupled with a Patriot loss to the Dolphins in Week 17, would allow the Chiefs to leapfrog the Patriots for the No. 2 seed in the AFC thanks to their tiebreaker advantage.
The good news for the Patriots beyond the fact that the Dolphins are an absolute disaster, of course, is that the Patriots hold a 7-0 record in December home games against Miami since 2001. This will the first December meeting at Gillette between this longtime rivals since 2014, when the Patriots beat the ‘Fins by a 41-13 final.
New England also defeated Miami by a ridiculous 43-0 score in their Week 2 meeting.
In other playoff news, the Ravens clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs thanks to their win over the Browns.
It was always unlikely that the Ravens were going to drop out of the No. 1 seed, but it became official after what was yet another disastrous day for the Freddie Kitchens-Baker Mayfield Browns, as Kitchens elected to go for a two-point conversion (which they missed) instead of making things a one-possession game with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That miss kept it a two-possession game, and the Browns never got any closer to catching Baltimore.
The No. 6 seed in the AFC remains unsettled, too, but the Titans remain in the driver’s seat even after their loss to the Saints, though the Steelers and Raiders are behind them and ‘in the hunt’ for the final postseason spot.
Tennessee can punch their ticket with a win in Week 17, or with losses by both the Steelers and Colts.
The Steelers, meanwhile, can get in if they beat the Ravens in Week 17 and the Titans lose to the Texans. They can also get in with a loss, but that would require the Titans losing and the Colts winning.
And then there’s the Raiders, who would qualify for postseason play if they beat the Broncos, if the Titans lose to the Texans, if the Ravens beat the Steelers, and if the Jaguars defeat the Colts. If that hits, Jon Gruden and Co. are back in the postseason.