Patriots

AFC playoff picture: Here's how Patriots' competition fared in Week 7

AFC playoff picture: Here's how Patriots' competition fared in Week 7

The AFC playoff picture was shook up Sunday despite the New England Patriots not playing their Week 7 game until Monday night.

The Baltimore Ravens earned an impressive road win over the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks to move up to the No. 3 seed in the conference. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Baltimore has a Week 8 bye before hosting the Patriots in Week 9 on "Sunday Night Football."

The Indianapolis Colts took over first place in the AFC South with a 30-23 win against the Houston Texans. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for 326 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Indy's next four games are against teams with losing records. The Texans dropped from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed as a result of this loss.

The Bills beat the winless Miami Dolphins to keep pressure on the Patriots in the AFC East. Buffalo is 7-2 in its last nine games dating back to last season, and both defeats came against the Patriots. 

The Kansas City Chiefs benefited from the Oakland Raiders losing to the Green Bay Packers. Kansas City's lead in the AFC West is now 1.5 games, but the Chiefs reportedly will be without star quarterback Patrick Mahomes for three to five weeks following the injury he suffered in Thursday night's win versus the Denver Broncos. 

The Chiefs remain the No. 2 seed in the AFC as a result of their Week 3 win over the Ravens. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker for teams with identical records.

The Los Angeles Chargers' chances of reaching the playoffs took another hit with a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon fumbled at the goal line in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

Here's a look at the updated playoff picture in the AFC after Sunday's Week 7 games.

1. New England Patriots, 6-0 (AFC East leader)
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 5-2 (AFC West leader)
3. Baltimore Ravens, 5-2 (AFC North leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 4-2 (AFC South leader)
5. Buffalo Bills, 5-1 (First Wild Card)
6. Houston Texans, 4-3 (Second Wild Card)

In the Hunt
Oakland Raiders, 3-3
Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-4
Tennessee Titans 3-4

Tom E. Curran's Patriots vs. Jets preview>>>

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Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch out vs. Patriots with neck issue

Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch out vs. Patriots with neck issue

The Dallas Cowboys will be without one of their best defensive players when they take on the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will miss the Week 12 matchup with a neck issue, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

Vander Esch has already missed one game this season due to a neck injury. The Boise State product had said he's "been looking forward [to facing Tom Brady] his whole life," but Dallas' 2018 first-round draft pick will have to wait a bit longer for the opportunity.

In nine games this year, Vander Esch has tallied 70 tackles, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and half of a sack.

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Sources: Patriots not interested in bringing back Antonio Brown

Sources: Patriots not interested in bringing back Antonio Brown

Once bitten, twice shy.

Two sources with knowledge of the Patriots thinking scoffed at the idea Antonio Brown would rejoin the Patriots this season.

When one source was asked if there was a chance the wideout – who was with the Patriots for less than two tumultuous weeks in September – might have a chance at rejoining the team, this was the two-word response.

“What’s changed?”

I mentioned Brown’s social media apology to owner Robert Kraft earlier in the week and his meeting last week with the NFL as possibly changing the equation.

I was told that it does not.

At issue aren’t hurt feelings that Brown couldn’t fix with a few keystrokes. It’s the wariness of something else cropping up down the road.

When the Patriots signed Brown, there was no advance notice from Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus that Brown was on the cusp of being slapped with a lawsuit by his former trainer Britney Taylor even though the legal wrangling between Brown and Taylor’s attorneys had been going on for months.

And while it was subsequently reported Rosenhaus couldn’t break a confidentiality agreement Brown supposedly had in place, the fact that the Patriots entered into the Brown experience not knowing at all that that bombshell was waiting to explode makes them unwilling to go down the same road again.

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