The New England Patriots are well-positioned to finish the 2021 NFL regular season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC and earn that coveted first-round playoff bye.
Their work is far from finished, though.
The Patriots need to beat the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday night's Week 15 game at Lucas Oil Stadium to maintain their hold on the top seed.
The Kansas City Chiefs currently occupy first place in the AFC after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. The Patriots, if they win against the Colts, would leapfrog the Chiefs via the conference record tiebreaker.
Why is New England the favorite to land the No. 1 seed by season's end?
NBC's Steve Kornacki joined NBC Sports Boston before kickoff Saturday night to break down the race in the AFC.
The Patriots have the best conference record in the AFC at 7-1, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Bills, Titans, Browns and Chargers.
They control their own destiny in the race for the conference's No. 1 seed, but it won't be an easy road.
The Colts, who have won four of their last five games, should give the Patriots a tough test Saturday night. New England also has to play a good Bills team and a red-hot Miami Dolphins team over the final three weeks of the season.
The Patriots are in a good spot, but their margin for error atop the AFC is slim.