Patriots needing Week 17 win for AFC seeding not unfamiliar scenario
The New England Patriots enter Week 17 needing a win over the rival New York Jets to clinch at least the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Even though the Patriots have not played on Wild Card Weekend since 2009, going into Week 17 with something to play for is not an unfamiliar scenario for Bill Belichick's team.
Let's take a look back in Patriots history at the seasons during which Week 17 was important to New England.
2001: Patriots clinch AFC East
The Patriots and Miami Dolphins both finished 11-5 atop the AFC East during the 2001 season, but New England won the tiebreaker with a 6-2 division record (these rivals split the season series 1-1). The Pats destroyed the Carolina Panthers 38-6 on the road to clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
2002: Patriots lose tiebreaker, miss playoffs
The Patriots earned a 27-24 overtime win against the Miami Dolphins to end the 2002 regular season, but failed to earn a playoff berth when the New York Jets trounced the Green Bay Packers 42-17 later in the day. The Jets, Patriots and Dolphins all finished 9-7 atop the AFC East, but New York won the tiebreaker.
2003: Patriots get revenge on Buffalo
The Patriots already had the No. 1 seed in the AFC wrapped up before Week 17 of the 2003 season, but their 31-0 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium was extra sweet. How so? It was the same score as Buffalo's 31-0 beatdown of New England in Week 1.
2005: Doug Flutie converts drop kick
Tom Brady threw just eight passes against the Dolphins because the Patriots knew they were going to play in the wild card round, but Doug Flutie made it an afternoon to remember by attempting the first successful drop kick in the NFL since 1941.
2007: Tom Brady, Randy Moss break records en route to 16-0
The Patriots completed the first 16-0 regular season with a thrilling 38-35 win over the New York Giants in a preview of Super Bowl XLII. Tom Brady's final touchdown pass to Randy Moss set NFL records for the most passing touchdowns (Brady, 50) and receiving touchdowns (Moss, 23) in a single season.
2008: Patriots miss playoffs despite 11-5 record
Matt Cassel took over for an injured Tom Brady in Week 1 and led the Patriots to an 11-5 record, including a 13-0 win over the Bills in Week 17. But it wasn't enough for New England, who missed the playoffs when the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets for the AFC East title and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars for the last wild-card spot.
2011: Patriots clinch No. 1 seed with win over Bills
The Patriots fell behind 21-0 to the Bills in Week 17, but recovered nicely by scoring the final 49 points to finish with a 13-3 record and secure the AFC's top seed.
2012: Patriots secure No. 2 seed
The Patriots learned before their Week 17 game against the Dolphins that the Houston Texans had lost, which meant New England would secure a top-two seed with a win over Miami. The Pats beat the Dolphins 28-0 and settled for the No. 2 seed after the Denver Broncos defeated the Kansas City Chiefs to finish 13-3, one game ahead of New England for the No. 1 seed.
2013: Patriots earn No. 2 seed
The Patriots entered Week 17 with the possibility of finishing in any of the AFC's top four seeds. They settled in the No. 2 spot after beating the Bills 34-20. The Broncos got the top spot after beating the Oakland Raiders to finish 13-3.
2015: Patriots lose to Dolphins, fail to earn No. 1 seed
The Patriots needed to beat the Dolphins to earn the No. 1 seed but lost 20-10 in Miami to finish with the No. 2 seed. It proved to be a costly loss because the Broncos, who ended up with the top seed, would later defeat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in Denver.
2016: Patriots beat Dolphins for top seed
The Patriots avenged their Week 17 loss in Miami from the previous season by beating the Dolphins 35-14 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
2017: Patriots beat Jets for No. 1 seed
The Patriots beat the Jets 26-6 at Gillette Stadium to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the second season in a row.