New England Patriots

Dec 10, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

The Patriots’ already-slim hopes for a 12th straight playoff appearance took another blow on Monday night.

This punch came courtesy of the Ravens, as a Lamar Jackson-led comeback win over the Browns dropped New England’s playoff percentage down to two percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. It wasn’t a staggering drop — the Patriots began Monday with a mere three percent chance of qualifying for the postseason — but it was certainly worse than the alternative, as the Patriots’ odds would have increased to five percent had the Browns pulled off the win.

With Jackson out of action due to “cramps,” the Browns erased their deficit and jumped ahead by a single point with a Baker Mayfield five-yard scramble for a score and Cody Parkey’s successful extra point.

And facing a 4th-and-5, and with Trace McSorley injured on the previous play, Jackson came running out of the tunnel, back onto the field, and immediately hit Hollywood Brown for a 44-yard touchdown to put the Ravens back on top.

Mayfield and the Browns counterpunched yet again, this time on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt, but Jackson once again led the Ravens down the field to get Justin Tucker in position for a 55-yard field goal make with two seconds left. And given one final shot, the Browns tried about a zillion laterals before taking it a safety to make it a five-point loss.

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scores a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

In other words, the Browns went Full Browns like only the Browns can.

On death’s door as is and currently in the 10th seed in the AFC, the 6-7 Patriots will by all means have to rattle off three straight victories to give themselves a puncher’s chance at a postseason berth. If that happens, independent of everything else around the NFL, the Patriots will have a 21 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Bill Belichick’s squad will close out the 2020 season with head-to-heads against the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets.

The Patriots have already made it known that they will be sticking with Cam Newton as the team’s starter.

But The Path? Well, that’s pretty much dead.

This is what we get for trusting Cleveland to not be Cleveland for a single night.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.

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