New England Patriots: What to root for in Week 17

New England Patriots, Tom Brady (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
New England Patriots, Tom Brady (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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What are the most important games, outcomes, and scenarios New England Patriots fans should keep an eye on this week?

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the Patriots’ most important game by far this week is its own home contest against the New York Jets.

Division games are always tricky, regardless of whether the playoffs are still an option for both squads. The Jets (4-11) haven’t sniffed the postseason in eight years, but they’d surely love nothing more than to end their season on a high note with a win over their archrivals.

Doing so would not only threaten the Patriots’ chances of obtaining a first-round bye; it could also be a fitting send-off for Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who is not expected to return to the team in 2019.

For the Patriots (10-5), Sunday is an absolute must-win. All week, the word out of Boston has been that players and coaches are treating this matchup like a playoff game. It’s the right mentality to foster for a team that has yet to find its groove this season and is quickly running out of chances.

Assuming the Pats put their money where their mouth is and cash in with a win on Sunday, they will lock up at least the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

There’s still a lot more scoreboard-watching to be done around the league though, as a number of games could have major implications on New England’s final seeding – not to mention the pool of opponents it could face come January.

Here are the five most important games and scenarios to keep an eye on during the final week of the NFL regular season: