Is 2020 the new 2008?
As New England fans are well aware, the Patriots will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008 -- the last year they didn't have Tom Brady under center.
But the 2008 Patriots were no slouches: Backup Matt Cassel guided New England to an 11-5 record after Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 and the team missed the playoffs only because the 11-5 Miami Dolphins owned the AFC East tiebreaker.
In fact, that Patriots club joined the 1985 Denver Broncos as the only teams in NFL history to miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record.
They soon could have some company in the 2020 Indianapolis Colts, however.
The Colts blew a 17-point lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday en route to a 28-24 loss that dropped them to 10-5. If the season ended Sunday afternoon, Indianapolis would miss the playoffs, as the 10-4 Tennessee Titans lead the AFC South entering their Sunday night clash with the Green Bay Packers.
Even if the Colts beat the 1-14 Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 to finish 11-5, they still could join the 2008 Patriots and 1985 Broncos in playoff-missing infamy.
How? Let's check out the updated AFC playoff picture:
In a Playoff Spot
1. Kansas City Chiefs, 14-1 (AFC West winner)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-3 (AFC North winner)
3. Buffalo Bills, 11-3 (AFC East winner)
4. Tennessee Titans, 10-4 (AFC South leader)
5. Miami Dolphins, 10-5 (First wild card)
6. Baltimore Ravens, 10-5 (Second wild card)
7. Cleveland Browns, 10-5 (Third wild card)
On the Bubble
8. Indianapolis Colts, 10-5
If the Titans win one of their next two games, they'll clinch the AFC South. And if the Dolphins, Ravens and Browns all win in Week 17, the Colts will miss the playoffs regardless of their outcome next Sunday.
That'd be a bit of poetic justice for New England, which missed the playoffs in 2008 partly because the Colts were a wild card team at 12-4.
The 6-8 Patriots, meanwhile, will finish with their worst record since Bill Belichick and Brady's first New England season in 2000. At least there's always the 2021 NFL Draft.