The New England Patriots took care of business Sunday in beating the Denver Broncos and improving to 11-3, improving their chances at landing the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. After that, they got some major help from the Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots’ main competitors for the #1 seed in the AFC are the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers, and all three teams lost their respective games handily. Carolina beat Houston 28-13, San Diego beat Baltimore 34-14, and San Francisco beat Pittsburgh last night 20-3. Those defeats dropped all three of the Pats’ competitors to 10-4.
What does that mean?
It means that the Patriots simply (or not so simply) have to win their two remaining games and they will have the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Both remaining games are at home and are against divisional opponents, so they know each other very well. This Saturday, the Pats will host the Miami Dolphins, who are a much better team than the one that started the season 0-7. The Buffalo Bills will be the Pats’ final regular season opponent, and are heading in the opposite direction than the Dolphins, not winning a game since Week 8.
Clearly, the Pats hold their destiny in their hands. It’s up to them to be mentally tough enough to close out the season and snag the best position in the AFC playoffs.