The New England Patriots' pursuit of a playoff spot came to a halt Sunday with a 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
The defeat mathematically eliminated the Patriots (6-8) from playoff contention in the AFC, and it ended an NFL record streak of 11 consecutive seasons with a postseason appearance.
The elimination of the Patriots leaves six teams still chasing a playoff berth, with the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders on the outside looking in. The Raiders have a much tougher path to the postseason, while the Ravens remain very much in the mix and currently sit outside a wild card spot due to a tiebreaker (win percentage in conference games) with the Dolphins.
Here's an updated look at the playoff race in the AFC (these standings will be updated after each Week 15 game).
In a Playoff Spot
1. Kansas City Chiefs, 13-1 (AFC West winner)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-2 (AFC North leader)
3. Buffalo Bills, 11-3 (AFC East winner)
4. Tennessee Titans, 10-4 (AFC South leader)
5. Indianapolis Colts, 10-4 (First wild card)
6. Cleveland Browns, 10-4 (Second wild card)
7. Miami Dolphins, 9-5 (Third wild card)
On the Bubble
8. Baltimore Ravens, 9-5
9. Las Vegas Raiders, 7-7
The Patriots have two games remaining and both are at home.
They play the rival Buffalo Bills in a "Monday Night Football" matchup next week. New England lost to the Bills on the road in Week 8 when quarterback Cam Newton fumbled late in the fourth quarter as the Patriots were driving toward the go-ahead score.
Buffalo clinched the AFC East title on Saturday with a win over the Denver Broncos, but the Bills still have seeding to play for over the final two weeks. It's still possible for the Bills to leapfrog the Steelers for the No. 2 seed.
The Bills could still tie the Chiefs at 13-3, but Kansas City holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Buffalo.
The Patriots host the New York Jets in the Week 17 finale. They were fortunate to beat the Jets on a last-second field goal earlier in the season, so even though a victory for New England is certainly expected, it's far from a sure thing. The Jets also won't be playing for an 0-16 season after getting their first win of the season Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. The Patriots have won nine consecutive games versus the Jets.
The AFC playoffs will not include the Patriots for the first time since 2008. It's going to be a strange January for many Patriots fans, but the reality is this team just didn't play well enough on a consistent basis to earn a spot in postseason.