NFL playoff picture: Here's what at stake for Patriots in game vs. Bills


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.

The weather forecast for Orchard Park Monday night is far from pleasant

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.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Has Buffalo's window of AFC East dominance already closed? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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.