Patriots

Latest on Pats' potential playoff seed, matchup entering Dolphins game

Patriots

We knew Week 18 would bring some surprises in the AFC playoff race, but we weren't expecting this.

Needing a win over the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars to clinch a postseason berth, the Indianapolis Colts suffered arguably the worst defeat in the NFL this season, losing 26-11 to officially miss out on a playoff spot.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Tennessee Titans survived the Houston Texans to clinch the AFC's No. 1 seed, while the Cleveland Browns took care of a Cincinnati Bengals team resting many of its starters.

Perry: Dolphins will provide Mac Jones with great pre-playoff test

Those games all had seeding implications for the New England Patriots, who take on the Miami Dolphins in their season finale at 4:25 p.m. ET. After the results of the 1 p.m. games, the Patriots can finish as high as the No. 3 seed or as low as No. 6 depending on how they fare against the Dolphins and whether the Buffalo Bills can win their matchup with the 4-12 New York Jets (also at 4:25 p.m.).

Here's what we do know: New England is guaranteed to play either the Bengals or the Bills and can finish as the third, fifth, or sixth seed. Let's get to the scenarios.

The Patriots will earn the No. 3 seed with...

  • Win over Dolphins
  • Jets win over Bills

Ironically, the Bills would finish No. 6 in this scenario, meaning the Patriots would host Buffalo in the Wild Card Round as the AFC East champions.

The Patriots will earn the No. 5 seed with...

  • Win over Dolphins
  • Bills win over Jets

OR

  • Loss to Dolphins
  • Bills win over Jets
  • Los Angeles Chargers win over Las Vegas Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET)

OR

  • Loss to Dolphins
  • Jets win over Bills
  • Chargers win over Raiders

Yup, there's reason to watch Raiders-Chargers tonight if the Patriots fall to the Dolphins.

In those first two scenarios, the Patriots would visit the No. 4 seed Bengals on Wild Card weekend. But in that last scenario, the Bills would fall to the No. 4 seed and host the Patriots.

 

The Patriots will earn the No. 6 seed with...

  • Loss to Dolphins
  • Bills win over Jets
  • Raiders win over Chargers

OR

  • Loss to Dolphins
  • Jets win over Bills
  • Raiders win over Chargers

If the Bills take care of the Jets and the Raiders beat the Chargers, we'd get Bills-Patriots in the 3-6 matchup. If the Bills lose and the Raiders win, the Patriots would visit the No. 3 seed Bengals.