The New England Patriots are in the drivers seat in the race for the AFC East title, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
The Patriots lead the rival Buffalo Bills by a half-game in the division standings. New England is 8-4 after beating the Tennessee Titans 36-13 in Week 12, while Buffalo is at 7-4 following a Thanksgiving victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The next major test for the Patriots is a Week 13 road game against the Bills on "Monday Night Football".
It's the first of two meetings between the Bills and Patriots. The outcome of these games will obviously have a massive impact on which team claims the division crown.
How much of an effect will Monday night's showdown have on the AFC East race? Here are some numbers from FiveThirtyEight's model:
|Week 13 Result||% Chance to Win Division|
|Patriots win||Pats 78%, Bills 21 %|
|Bills win||Bills 80%, Pats 20%|
|Tie||Pats 60%, Bills 40%|
The Bills and Patriots will meet again in Foxboro in Week 16. If the Patriots are able to win two of their next three games versus the Bills (twice) and Indianapolis Colts, they should be in a good spot with their last two matchups coming against very beatable opponents in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots remain a strong bet to reach the playoffs in some capacity, even if they lose to the Bills on Monday night. FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Patriots a 91 percent chance to secure a postseason berth, and that number only drops to 84 percent with a Week 13 loss in Buffalo.
The real question is whether the Patriots will win the division. You have to like their chances given the way they've played of late in winning six consecutive games and outscoring opponents by 148 points during that stretch.