New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 28: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots celebrates with teammates after making a touchdown reception against Kevin Byard #31 of the Tennessee Titans (not in photo) in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots enter Week 13 as the No. 2 seed in the AFC after winning their sixth straight game on Sunday. But they have a legitimate shot at landing the No. 1 seed by the end of the regular season, because of one key metric that serves as one of the top tiebreakers.

As of Week 13, the Patriots have the best record in the AFC against the conference at 6-1. Behind them are the Bengals (5-2), then the Colts and Ravens at 5-3. Head-to-head remains the No. 1 tiebreaker for both divisions and wild card teams, but for non-division ties, conference record is the second tiebreaker.

The Patriots don’t face the current No. 1 seed, the Baltimore Ravens, in the regular season. So if they end up with the same record, the Pats would hold the tiebreaker over them. Of course, as long as they continue to take care of business: the Patriots’ remaining five games are all in the AFC (Bills x2, Colts, Jaguars, Dolphins).

Obviously, head-to-head will be the first tiebreaker between the Pats and Bills, and also against the Titans, Colts, Chargers, and Browns. But if they can’t top the Bills for the AFC East, it’ll largely come down to their record against the conference. They hold that trump card over the Ravens, Chiefs, Bengals, and Broncos.

As for the AFC East … they’ll need some help from the Bills, who are 3-0 so far against the division. Division record is the second tiebreaker within a division. The Patriots are 2-1. So if the Patriots and Bills split their two games and end up with the same record, it will have to come with a Bills loss to the Jets in Week 18 in order to bypass that tiebreaker.

It goes to show how massive both games are for both the Patriots and Bills. But even if New England can’t reclaim the AFC East crown, as long as they win the majority of their remaining games, they’ll have a good chance to finish with the best record against the conference. That’ll bode well for their ultimate seeding in the AFC playoffs.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at