The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills will square off Monday night in a game that will have a huge impact on not just the AFC title race, but the AFC playoff picture as a whole.
The Patriots enter this Week 13 matchup as the conference's No. 1 seed after the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
New England's stay atop the AFC could be short-lived, though. Bill Belichick's team needs to beat the Bills on the road at Highmark Stadium to maintain that position.
Here's a recap of what's at stake for the Patriots in Monday's showdown versus the Bills. All of the percentages in the table below are from FiveThirtyEight's model.
|Scenario||Seed||Make Playoffs||Win AFC East||1st Round Bye|
|If Patriots win…||No. 1||98%||77%||47%|
|If Patriots lose…||No. 5||81%||19%||8%|
A loss drops the Patriots four spots in the standings and makes winning the division pretty challenging. They would still be a strong bet to return to the postseason, but having a home playoff game would be unlikely.
A win gives the Patriots a nice cushion over the Bills and make them the favorite to finish the regular season as the No. 1 seed. Under the new playoff format, the only team in each conference that's awarded a first-round bye is the top seed.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have been awesome on the road this season with a 5-0 record and a point differential of plus-68.
Monday's game against the Bills will be their toughest road game yet, though. It's a tremendous test for Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones and a New England defense that's playing with all kinds of confidence amid the team's six-game win streak.