Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- It wasn't long after media members were allowed into the Patriots locker room that the screams began. 

"Let's go!"

"Ohh!"

"Let's [expletive] go!"

"Hell yeah!"

The Patriots had just captured their 10th consecutive AFC East title. The hats and t-shirts had been distributed after they beat the Bills, 24-12. But in that moment they were celebrating another win. 

Players erupted when they saw that the Eagles had kicked a game-winning field goal to beat the Texans, putting the Patriots in the driver's seat for the No. 2 seed. 

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It didn't matter that it was their opponent in Super Bowl LII who did them a favor. The Patriots were more than happy to take it.

“Nick Foles does it again," Duron Harmon said. "This is the only time probably I’ll cheer for Nick Foles in my life . . . He just showed that he's a great competitor. A great player. Two years in a row he's been in this position and he's been delivering. Thankful he helped us this time and didn't beat us."

Players watched the late-game drama play out on their phones, Harmon said.

"The whole two-minute drive. We seen the third-and-10 pass to Alshon [Jeffery]. For a moment we were just able to be fans of the game, just enjoy it, cheer for somebody other than ourselves for all it's worth. It worked out it out favor."

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The Patriots still have to hold up their end of the bargain, though. If they can beat the Jets at home in Week 17, they'll be guaranteed not to drop any further than the two seed. That would mean a postseason bye and a Divisional Round game at home.

 

"We still gotta handle out business next week," Stephon Gilmore said. "We got a Jets team that's gonna come in and play hard. They've got a lot of great players so we still gotta handle our business on our end . . . We didn't take care of our business the last two weeks, but we had to come out here and take care of business this week."

The Jets are coming off of a 44-38 loss at home to the Packers, and they've lost five of their last six. They have little to play for, but rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is playing as well as he has all season. He threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns and no picks against Green Bay one week after throwing for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in a loss to the Texans. 

"They're going to be ready and try to give us everything they got," Matthew Slater said. "I wouldn't be too excited about [the No. 2 seed] right now. Let's have a good Christmas and then let's go worry about the Jets."

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