The New England Patriots are still almost assuredly returning to the postseason after a one-year absence, as their odds merely dropped from 97 to 96% with Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Should they get back to the postseason, however, it's increasingly likely they'll do so as a wild-card entrant and have to go on the road in the first round.
That may not be a bad thing.
With Sunday's loss to Buffalo, New England's record at home fell to 3-5, assuring the Patriots of their first losing record in Foxboro since 2000 -- Bill Belichick's first season -- and their first losing season ever at Gillette Stadium, which opened two years later.
Not even in 2020, the first losing season overall for the team since 2000, did New England finish with a losing record at home; the Patriots went 5-3 at Gillette last season with Cam Newton under center.
Since Gillette opened in 2002, New England went unbeaten at home in the regular season seven times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2018) and never finished with fewer than five wins in their home confines.
But after getting off to an 0-4 start at home this season -- the worst for the franchise since 1993 -- New England put itself in position to win out at home and avoid the kind of history it made Sunday.
The road has been of little issue for the Patriots to date in 2021, however, as Mac Jones won his first six starts away from home before last weekend's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But in a league where no rookie quarterback has ever won a Super Bowl, and only two rookie passers have won a road playoff game at all in the last 10 seasons (John Wolford, Russell Wilson), New England may be tempting fate by playing away from home in the postseason.