Despite an uninspiring loss at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, the Patriots remain in the thick of the postseason race and could see themselves back in the playoff field as soon as next week.
Jets quarterback Mike White was solid in his second start of the year and nearly led New York back from a 20-3 deficit but the Jets’ red zone woes were too much to overcome. Gang Green’s 27-22 loss to Minnesota dropped the Jets to 7-5 on the season, just one game ahead of the Patriots. If New England beats Arizona and New York loses to AFC-leading Buffalo next week, the Patriots will take over the conference’s 7th and final playoff spot.
The other AFC East playoff contender, Miami is unlikely to fall to the lower rungs of the playoff picture but the Dolphins’ 33-17 loss to San Francisco only helps the Patriots’ chances.
The Raiders’ 27-20 win is doubly advantageous to New England. Not only did it knock the Los Angeles Chargers to .500, level with the Patriots, it also increased New England’s strength of schedule and added to any possible victory tiebreakers the Patriots may need at the end of the season.
The only games of major consequence that didn’t work in New England’s were a pair of AFC North victories. At 8-4, one of Cincinnati and Baltimore will win the division while the other takes one of the Top 2 Wild Card seeds. Both playoff hopefuls won on Sunday, separating the top of the AFC Wild Card race even more from the Patriots and their company lingering on the fringe of the playoff picture.
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