The Patriots took care of business on Sunday, and got the help they needed around the league as well. As a result, they’ve officially clinched a spot in the NFL playoffs.
Heading into Sunday, the Patriots need a win couples with a loss by Miami or Las Vegas in order to lock up at least a Wild Card bid. In a dominant effort that helped them temporarily reclaim the top seed in the AFC, the Titans topped the Dolphins 34-3, completing the picture for the Patriots.
Meanwhile, the Raiders ended up beating Indianapolis on a last-second field goal. Because they got the help they needed elsewhere, that result became a favorable one for the Patriots. At 10-6, New England sits in the fifth seed and top Wild Card spot heading into Week 18. Had Indy won, they would have matched the Patriots’ record, and been placed ahead of the Patriots in the standings given the head-to-head tiebreaker.
With a win next week against the Dolphins in Miami, the Patriots would lock up the fifth spot in the AFC, and visit the lowest-ranked division winner in the first round of the playoffs. If the Patriots win and the New York Jets – who nearly took down the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday – find a way to beat the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots would win the AFC East and get a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.