Patriots

NFL playoff picture: How Patriots can clinch postseason berth in Week 14

NFL playoff picture: How Patriots can clinch postseason berth in Week 14

The New England Patriots can punch their ticket to the NFL playoffs in Sunday's Week 14 showdown versus the Kandas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots will secure a spot simply with a victory, but there are a few other (and more unlikely) ways for them to get in.

Here's how the Patriots can clinch at least a wild card berth this weekend, according to the league.

New England clinches playoff berth with:

NE win OR
NE tie + PIT loss OR
NE tie + HOU loss or tie OR
NE tie + TEN loss or tie OR
HOU loss + IND loss or tie + OAK-TEN tie

The Patriots could have clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Houston Texans in Week 13, but they lost 28-22 at NRG Stadium.

The loss not only delayed New England's inevitable playoff spot clinching, but also knocked the defending Super Bowl champions out of the AFC's No. 1 seed. The Patriots' loss, combined with the Baltimore Ravens' win over the San Francisco 49ers, vaulted the AFC North team into the No. 1 seed. Baltimore and New England have identical 10-2 records entering Week 14, but the Ravens own the head-to-head tiebreaker as a result of their Week 9 win against the Patriots.

The Patriots have won the AFC East title in 10 consecutive seasons, but clinching the division likely will be harder this year compared to recent seasons. New England has only a one-game lead over the Bills in the division race, and these rivals play one more time in Week 16 at Gillette Stadium.

Updated NFL playoff picture entering Week 14>>>

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Patriots vs. Bengals Injury Report: Julian Edelman misses practice, Tom Brady limited

Patriots vs. Bengals Injury Report: Julian Edelman misses practice, Tom Brady limited

The New England Patriots had several important players on their Wednesday injury report.

Veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman was the only Patriots player who didn't practice. He's nursing knee/shoulder injuries. The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported Edelman's absence was for "load management." Edelman wasn't the only wideout listed -- N'Keal Harry (hip) was a full participant and Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was limited.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a full practice participant but is listed on the injury report with a right elbow issue. He anticipated this scenario during his press conference after Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

New England's Week 15 opponent is the Cincinnati Bengals, who have seven players on their injury report ahead of Sunday's matchup at Paul Brown Stadium. Three of quarterback Andy Dalton's top weapons on offense -- wide receivers John Ross III (limited) and A.J. Green (did not practice), and tight end Tyler Eifert (limited) -- are listed. Injuries to key players is among the many reasons why the Bengals have a league-worst 1-12 record.

Here are the first Week 15 injury reports for both teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-3)

DID NOT PRACTICE
Julian Edelman, WR, Knee/Shoulder

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
JaWhaun Bentley, LB, Knee
Byron Cowart, DL, Concussion
Ted Karras, OL, Knee
Jason McCourty, CB, Groin
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Ankle
Danny Shelton, DL, Shoulder

FULL PARTICIPATION
Tom Brady, QB, RIght Elbow
N'Keal Harry, WR, Hip

CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-12)

DID NOT PRACTICE
Geno Atkins, DT, Non-injury related
Darqueze Dennard, CB, Non-injury related
A.J. Green, WR, Ankle

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
Tyler Eifert, TE, Non-injury related
Sam Hubbard, DE, Knee
John Ross III, WR, Foot
Renell Wren, DT, Hip

Pats sign trick-shot kicker to practice squad>>>

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Matt Cassel: How Bill Belichick will handle 'Spygate 2.0' behind the scenes

Matt Cassel: How Bill Belichick will handle 'Spygate 2.0' behind the scenes

When “Spygate” originally went down, we as New England Patriots players were unaware of anything that was going on. 

The story became national news pretty quickly. You'd turn on the television and hear everyone calling us cheaters and saying, “This is the reason why they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished.” 

It was so blown out of proportion, and it was all speculation at that point.

We were going into our second week of the 2007 season, and Bill Belichick addressed the team to discuss the elephant in the room.

He said, “Look, this is what’s going on, but it’s nothing you guys need to be concerned with. It’s a league issue, and you guys have nothing to do with it."

It was a general statement just notifying the team: "You’re going to be asked about it. I’ll handle the questioning on it."

The fact of the matter was, he wanted to get back to status quo. He reminded us that we had a game that week, and that we had to focus on that.

After that, it was business as usual. “Spygate” wasn’t this overarching theme he addressed constantly throughout the week. Once he said his peace in that first meeting, we were on to the San Diego Chargers (our next opponent), and then the week proceeded as usual.

I think this week's circumstances are completely different from when that development first broke in 2007. 

The players and football staff have no understanding of anything the production team is doing. ... We never saw those guys.

This situation is something in which the film crew for the Patriots' in-house production team was doing their show, "Do Your Job," on an individual scout.

The players and football staff have no understanding of anything the production team is doing on week-to-week basis. We never saw those guys unless they requested an interview with us like any other media outlet.

They weren’t at practice, they were never in meetings. There’s just no communication between them and the players and coaching staff, unless they're doing a story on one of us.

So, this is outside even the realm of football, really.

It's a mishap by the Patriots' production group in that they forgot or didn't acknowledge the rules, and because of the history, everybody immediately draws the conclusion that Bill had something to do with it and this team is somehow benefiting from this. 

That's false -- especially when you're talking about the Cincinnati Bengals, who have won one game all year. That's what makes it more comical when you consider the circumstances.

My guess is Bill won't make more than one quick statement to the team about this.

He'll say, “Look, none of you guys have anything to do with it. Even as a team and a coaching staff, we have nothing to do with this. You let me address it in the media, and if you don’t have any common knowledge of it -- which none of us do -- then there’s really no reason to comment on it.” 

That’s it. Then it’s back to business, back to the work week and back to getting ready for the Bengals. I don’t think it will be brought up any more than that.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.

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