Here's how Patriots can clinch AFC East or wild card playoff berth in Week 16


There are six ways for the New England Patriots to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season.

One of those scenarios is clinching the AFC East title, something the Patriots did every season from 2009 through 2019. The team that took the division crown away from them in 2020 was the Buffalo Bills, and these rivals will meet at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a game that will go a long way in determining the AFC East winner.

A Patriots win would give them a 99 percent chance of finishing the season as division winners. A victory for the Bills gives them a 87 percent chance of winning back-to-back division titles, per FiveThirtyEight. So, as far as the division goes, the stakes couldn't be much higher for these teams Sunday.

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For the Patriots to clinch the AFC East in Week 16, they don't just need to beat the Bills. They also need the Miami Dolphins to lose or tie against the New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football".

There also are five ways the Patriots can clinch at least a wild card berth. They all include the Patriots beating the Bills plus two or three other results going their way.

Here are all of the scenarios in which the Patriots can clinch either the AFC East title or at least a wild card berth in Week 16.


New England clinches AFC East division title with:

  1. NE win + MIA loss or tie

New England clinches playoff berth with:

  1. NE win + LV loss or tie + LAC loss OR
  2. NE win + IND loss or tie + CIN loss OR
  3. NE win + IND loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
  4. NE win + IND loss or tie + LAC loss OR
  5. NE win + BAL loss + CLE loss or tie + PIT loss or tie