Patriots

NFL playoff scenarios: What Patriots are facing entering Week 16

NFL playoff scenarios: What Patriots are facing entering Week 16

Sunday's 34-13 win over the Bengals clinched the Patriots' 11th straight trip to the playoffs, the longest streak in NFL history.

But with two weeks remaining in the NFL season, that's all that New England knows about its postseason future — only that it exists. Will the Pats go into the playoffs as division winners or a wild card? Will they play at home or on the road in January? That's still to be determined over the next two weeks.

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Let's try to clear things up for a team that could finish as anything from the No. 1 to the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

No. 1 seed & home-field advantage throughout playoffs

Though technically still a possibility, there's little to no chance of the Patriots earning the conference's top seed.

Thanks to a 37-20 loss to Baltimore in Week 9, New England would need to win its final two games of the season (vs. Buffalo and vs. Miami) while the 12-2 Ravens would need to lose their remaining two games (at Cleveland and vs. Pittsburgh) to vault Baltimore in the standings. Not happening.

No. 2 seed & first-round bye

The Patriots have earned a bye in an NFL-record nine consecutive seasons, and they control their destiny to make it 10 in a row.

If the Pats win their final two games and finish the season with a 13-3 record, they'll wrap up a bye. Simple as that. And they'll enter the playoffs as the 2-seed so long as the Ravens win at least once.

A 1-1 record in the final two weeks doesn't eliminate the possibility of a bye; it just makes things more complicated, as the Chiefs would need to cooperate by losing at least one of their remaining two games (at Chicago, vs. the Chargers).

No. 3 seed & hosting a Wild Card game

With the Chiefs lurking (and owning the tiebreaker over the Patriots thanks to their Week 14 win in Foxboro), this is a distinct possibility should New England slip up against either the Bills or Dolphins.

If the Patriots lose in either of the next two weeks and finish with a 12-4 record, Kansas City would jump them in the standings by winning out. New England would then have to play on Wild Card weekend, which hasn't happened since 2009, when Tom Brady threw three picks and Ray Rice steamrolled his way to 159 yards on the ground in a 33-14 Ravens victory.

No. 4 seed & hosting a Wild Card game

This isn't a likely scenario, but it's possible should a three- or four-way tie happen in the standings.

If the Patriots, Texans, and Chiefs all finish with identical 11-5 records, New England would drop to the 4-seed because of losses to both Houston and Kansas City. In this scenario, the Texans would vault into the No. 2 seed thanks to a 31-24 win over the Chiefs back in Week 6.

No. 5 seed & going on the road for a Wild Card game

Here's another remote possibility, but there is a chance that the Patriots could open the postseason on the road for the first time since 1998.

If New England loses its final two games against the Bills and Dolphins, while the Bills defeat both the Patriots and Jets, Buffalo would claim its first AFC East title since 1995, dropping the 11-5 Patriots all the way to the No. 5 seed in the AFC. 

Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers reveals his goal entering 2020 NFL season

Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers reveals his goal entering 2020 NFL season

The New England Patriots need a young wide receiver to step and play at a higher level in 2020, and one of the best candidates is Jakobi Meyers.

Meyers went undrafted in 2019 out of North Carolina State and performed well enough in training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the Patriots' 53-man roster. 

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What is Meyers hoping to accomplish in his second pro season?

"Mentally, I want to be levels ahead of where I was last year," Meyers told Patriots.com writer Paul Perillo. "Understanding not only what we're doing but also why we're doing it. Earning trust to make the right play. I want to build on last year. It was a nice stepping stone, but I want to keep building and growing."

Meyers knows his job is not guaranteed, and he's very motivated to prove to the Patriots that he again deserves a roster spot.

"I feel like I will be a lot further ahead," Meyers said. "I didn't know if I'd even make the team or what role I might have or where I'd be playing. I still have chip on my shoulder, like will I even be here? I'm staying ready for my name to be called. I need to make sure I give them a reason to keep me around."

For Meyers to take the next step he must be more consistent.

The 23-year-old wideout had consecutive games with multiple receptions only twice as a rookie, and he tallied only one catch in five of the 11 games he played. Overall, Meyers totaled 26 receptions for 359 yards and zero touchdowns in 2019.

One reason to be confident in Meyers' ability to make a stronger impact in the Patriots offense next season is Jarrett Stidham. The 2019 fourth-round draft pick likely will be the team's starting quarterback following Tom Brady's departure in free agency, and he and Meyers had a good chemistry during the preseason. Of course, it's important not to take too much away from preseason action, but these two players built a strong rapport last August

Injuries to veteran wide receivers Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu played a large part in the Patriots' offensive struggles over the second half of the 2019 season. If Edelman and Sanu come back healthy, and a young wideout such as Meyers or N'Keal Harry make a sophomore leap, New England's offense has a chance to be surprisingly good in 2020.

McCourty twins put Drew Brees on blast after Saints QB's protest comments

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USA TODAY Sports

McCourty twins put Drew Brees on blast after Saints QB's protest comments

Drew Brees' first public comments in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last week have drawn a strong reaction from players across the NFL, including members of the New England Patriots.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback did an interview with Yahoo! Finance that was posted Wednesday, and when asked about players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America, Brees made it clear he's not in favor of that gesture.

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“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees told Yahoo!. "Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about. ..."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 was the first NFL player to protest by kneeling during the national anthem, and many other players have done so since.

The official Twitter account of Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty posted a tweet in response to Brees' remarks, calling them "a disgrace."

The McCourty twins weren't the only athletes reacting to Brees' comments on social media. Many others did, too, including two of Brees' wide receiver teammates, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.