Newly released NFL week 18 schedule helps the Patriots
The Patriots’ big win on Sunday over the Dolphins pushed them back into the playoff picture, with another boost coming just hours later as the Jets lost to the Seahawks. Now back in the 7th seed, New England remains in control of their fate – a win in Buffalo next week ensures a spot in the playoffs.
But what if they lose?
There are a lot of scenarios that could play out for the Patriots to remain as the final wild-card team. The easiest, of course, is simply beating the Bills next week. However, because there is little optimism of that actually happening, New England could still make the playoffs with the help of several outcomes next weekend.
One way the Pats make it in:
- — The New York Jets beat the Dolphins AND
- — The Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers AND
- — The Jacksonville Jaguars beat or tie the Tennessee Titans
With the Patriots and Dolphins eyeing the final spot, the Jets (who have already been eliminated) getting a win in Miami would eliminate the AFC rival from the playoffs. Despite the lousy showing by Jets’ quarterback Mike White on Sunday, the Dolphins will likely be down to their third-string quarterback, increasing New York’s chances of winning.
The Steelers’ comeback win over the Ravens on Sunday night didn’t help the Patriots’ cause, but the Browns defeating Pittsburgh next week is not out of the question.
The Jaguars have been on a hot streak as of late, winning four of their last five games over the Texans, Jets, Cowboys, and Titans. With Tennessee dealing with so many injuries to their team, this Jags could finally make their return to the playoffs with a win, securing the AFC South division title and helping the Patriots simultaneously.
But the most valuable part in all of this for New England? The scheduling.
The NFL released the first games of week 18 shortly after Sunday Night Football’s conclusion, revealing that the Chiefs at Raiders and Titans at Jaguars will take place on Saturday. This means the Bills, the Patriots week 18 opponent, will know their fate before kickoff on Sunday afternoon.
The Bills need a win over the Bengals on Monday night to increase their chance of remaining as the number-one seed. But even with a loss in Cincinnati, the results of week 18’s Saturday games will likely determine if coach Sean McDermott rests his players against the Patriots, which raises the possibility of a Patriots win in Buffalo.