The Patriots are set to face the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night football with a lot on the line. Other than needing a win to increase morale, they need to win in the desert to keep their post-season hopes alive. But before they’ve even taken the field this week, they got some help from some AFC teams losing on Sunday.
The Jets and the Bills dealt with some turbulent weather in their matchup, with the Bills coming out as the victor, winning 20-12. This dropped the Jets to 7-6 and down into eighth place after the conclusion of Sunday Night Football.
The Chargers and the Dolphins looked to keep their positioning in the playoffs, with the Chargers jumping past the Jets with their 23-17 win. The Dolphins’ five-game winning streak feels like a thing of the past, as they have now lost their last two games. Currently sitting at 8-5, Miami remains just one game ahead of New York before the Patriots play in Glendale.
If New England can defeat the Cardinals, they will also move up to hold a 7-6 record. Because they swept the Jets this season, a win would move them above their divisional rival. It would also move them ahead of the Chargers to (at least temporarily) secure the final wild-card spot for the AFC playoffs.
Current playoff picture
- Buffalo Bills: 10-3
- Kansas City Chiefs: 10-3
- Baltimore Ravens: 9-4
- Tennessee Titans: 7-6
- Cincinnati Bengals: 9-4
- Miami Dolphins: 8-5
- Los Angeles Chargers: 7-6
IN THE HUNT
- New York Jets: 7-6
- New England Patriots: 6-6
With just four games left after Monday night, the Patriots own the second most difficult remaining schedule in the league. After playing the Cardinals, they face the Raiders in Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels’ first regular-season matchup since the offensive coordinator left New England earlier this year. They then host the Bengals and the Dolphins and end the season in Buffalo.
Given how competitive the AFC is this year, the Patriots have a taller task ahead of them than they’re used to. To maintain a spot in the playoffs, they will likely need to win out, if not end with three of four wins. There are still opportunities for them to get more help from those in their division, especially with the Dolphins having three more AFC East games to play. But as it’s been said a lot this season but more recently, the Patriots control their destiny.
Coming into week 14, they are currently 1.5-point favorites over Arizona. Although the Patriots have lost their last two games, the Cardinals have had worse luck as they lost four of their last five.
If New England can play anything like what they showed against the Vikings on Thanksgiving, not how they performed last week against the Bills, this should be a very attainable win. But their inconsistency has been one of their most glaring issues this season, making it difficult to predict what team will show up week-to-week.