Despite slipping up against the Dolphins last week in Miami, the New England Patriots are still in good position in terms of clinching playoff scenarios in week 16. If the Pats beat the Ravens on Sunday, they clinch the AFC East title. Obviously winning the division is not the ultimate goal around Foxboro, but it is the first step towards getting to the Super Bowl, and after winning three titles in a span of four years back in the early 2000′s, that is the only goal for this football team.
Stealing the top spot from the Broncos is probably out of the question at this point, as Denver will not lose to the Raiders or Texans over the final two weeks of the regular season. But there is a possibility that the Patriots can clinch a first round bye this Sunday, as if the Bengals and Colts both lose, and the Pats win, then the two seed will be wrapped up for New England.
The Patriots are a banged up football team, and any extra rest helps them tremendously for the upcoming playoff run. Getting a first round bye won’t bring back Gronkowski, Wilfork, or Mayo, but it will help all of the guys on the active roster currently dealing with an injury.