The New England Patriots didn't play this past weekend, but they still managed to pick up a win.
That's because the Kansas City Chiefs -- one of two teams ahead of the Patriots in the AFC -- lost an epic shootout to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night to drop to 9-2. The defeat means Kansas City technically has just a one-game lead on New England, who owns the tiebreaker by virtue of its head-to-head win in Week 6.
Of course, the Patriots still will need help from both the Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers to secure the AFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But if they win out (which admittedly is a big "if"), they need Kansas City to lose just one more game to capture the AFC's top spot.
Let's reset the AFC playoff picture entering Week 12.
AFC Overall Standings
1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)*
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1)*
3. New England Patriots (7-3)*
4. Houston Texans (7-3)*
5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
In the hunt: Cincinnati Bengals (5-5), Miami Dolphins (5-5), Indianapolis Colts (5-5), Tennessee Titans (5-5)
AFC Wild-Card Round Matchups (as of Nov. 20)
No. 3 Patriots vs. No. 6 Ravens
No. 4 Texans vs. No. 5 Chargers
Key Week 12 Matchups
- Patriots at New York Jets
- Steelers at Denver Broncos
- Texans at Titans
With the Chiefs on a bye this week, the Patriots must take care of business on the road against New York if they want to remain in striking distance. Kansas City returns from the bye with an easy matchup against the Oakland Raiders, so the pressure will be on Bill Belcihick and Co. to take care of business.
Pittsburgh will be favored against Denver, but it is a late afternoon road game with a three-hour time difference, so there's a slight chance of a Broncos upset. New England also should keep an eye on Houston, which boasts an identical record after winning seven straight. The Patriots do own the tiebreaker over the Texans, though.
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