Patriots

What does Patriots' path to Super Bowl LIV look like? Let's play out the AFC

What does Patriots' path to Super Bowl LIV look like? Let's play out the AFC

Alas, the New England Patriots are mortal.

A perfect season is off the table after last Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But the Patriots still are in the AFC's catbird seat at 8-1 entering their bye week.

So, is another Super Bowl run in the cards for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady?

With 10 days to kill before New England's next game, we played out the entire remaining schedule of every AFC contender to predict how the conference playoff picture will shake out -- and if any team can knock the Patriots off their perch.

It's prediction time.

No. 1 seed: New England Patriots

Final record: 13-3
Wins: vs. Dallas, at Houston, at Cincinnati, vs. Buffalo, vs. Miami
Losses: at Philadelphia, vs. Kansas City

The Patriots drop another road game coming out of the bye and fall to Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs in a Week 14 shootout. But wins over an awful Bengals team and their downtrodden AFC East competitors (Bills and Dolphins) help them edge Kansas City for the AFC's No. 1 seed.

No. 2: Kansas City Chiefs

Final record: 12-4
Wins: at Tennessee, vs. Oakland, at New England, vs. Denver, at Chicago, vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Losses: at Los Angeles Chargers

The AFC's top seed is decided two weeks from now, when the Chargers upset Mahomes and Co. for the second time in as many games. Kansas City wins out from there, but that fourth loss seals its fate as the No. 2 seed.

No. 3: Baltimore Ravens

Final record: 11-5
Wins: at Cincinnati, vs. Houston, vs. New York Jets, at Browns
Losses: at Los Angeles Rams, vs. San Francisco, at Buffalo

The Ravens ride the Patriots victory wave to two more wins -- then stumble during a brutal three-game stretch against the Rams, 49ers and Bills. Baltimore wins out from there, but its schedule proves too difficult to earn a first-round playoff bye.

No. 4: Houston Texans

Final record: 10-6
Wins: vs. Indianapolis, vs. Denver, at Tampa Bay, vs. Tennessee
Losses: at Baltimore, vs. New England, at Tennessee

The Texans lose two of their next three and stumble on the road against the Titans in Week 15, but earn a revenge win over Tennessee in Week 17 to barely hold on for the No. 4 seed.

No. 5: Buffalo Bills

Final record: 10-6
Wins: at Cleveland, at Miami, vs. Denver, vs. New York
Losses: at Dallas, vs. Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at New England

The Bills push to 9-2 before their schedule finally catches up to them. Four consecutive losses put Buffalo's playoff hopes in jeopardy, but a win over the Jets in Week 17 helps the Bills earn a No. 5 seed by virtue of a tiebreaker win over the Colts.

No. 6: Indianapolis Colts

Final record: 10-6
Wins: vs. Miami, vs. Jacksonville, vs. Tennessee, at Tampa Bay, vs. Carolina
Losses: at Houston, at New Orleans, at Jacksonville

The Colts win four of their next five games and have a home Wild Card game in their sights. But it all comes apart in Week 17, as the AFC South rival Jaguars defend their turf to drop the Colts all the way to a No. 6 seed.

Just missed: Oakland Raiders (9-7), Los Angeles Chargers (8-8)

AFC Wild Card Round

- No. 3 Ravens defeat No. 6 Colts
- No. 4 Texans defeat No. 5 Bills

The Colts' middling defense can't contain the dynamic Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, while Deshaun Watson wills the Texans to a win at home over a feisty Buffalo team.

AFC Divisional Round

- No. 1 Patriots defeat No. 4 Texans
- No. 3 Ravens defeat No. 2 Chiefs

Watson is a handful for the Patriots, but New England, as always, finds a way to win at home in the divisional round. The same can't be said for the Chiefs, as Jackson exploits Kansas City's pourous defense to lead the Ravens to a road upset.

AFC Championship Game

- No. 1 Patriots defeat No. 3 Ravens

Bill Belichick's club made a lot of mistakes in its Week 9 loss to Baltimore. It doesn't make those same mistakes at Gillette Stadium, as the Patriots edge the Ravens to punch their ticket to a fourth straight Super Bowl.*

*Bonus prediction: Patriots fans get their dream Super Bowl LIV matchup in Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy G nearly pulls off the upset, but Tom Brady mounts a game-winning drive to defeat the team he grew up watching.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Robert Kraft lends Patriots' plane to transport N95 masks from China

Robert Kraft lends Patriots' plane to transport N95 masks from China

The New England Patriots and the Kraft family are actively joining Massachusetts' fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft commissioned New England's team plane to fly to China to transport 1.2 million N95 protective masks back to Massachusetts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Per the Journal, Mass. Governor Charlie Baker reached an agreement with Chinese manufacturers two weeks ago to receive a shipment of the masks, which are essential to the safety of health care workers exposed to COVID-19 but are in woefully short supply in the state.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

But Baker didn't have a way to transport the masks to the United States -- until the Krafts stepped in. Working with Baker and the U.S. State Department, Robert and Jonathan agreed to lend their team plane as transport.

The "Air Kraft" landed in Shenzen, China, according to the Journal, where extra precautions were taken during the three-hour loading process: No one from the flight crew left the plane to avoid the risk of infection.

The Boeing 767 departed Shenzen at 3:38 a.m. on Wednesday morning, per the Journal, and is set to arrive Thursday afternoon at Logan Airport, where Robert Kraft, Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will greet the plane, according to Politico.

The National Guard then will transport the 1.2 million masks to a "strategic stockpile" in Marlborough, Mass., Politico reported.

The original order was for 1.7 million masks, per the Journal, but only 1.2 million could fit on the plane, so the remaining 500,000 will be sent to the U.S. in a separate shipment early next week.

Massachusetts had 7,738 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, according to the CDC, including 122 deaths from the novel virus. Both of those numbers are expected to grow exponentially.

Rob Gronkowski revealed as White Tiger in 'The Masked Singer'

Rob Gronkowski revealed as White Tiger in 'The Masked Singer'

The identity of the mysterious (or not-so-mysterious, depending on how you look at it) White Tiger was revealed on Wednesday night's episode of FOX's "The Masked Singer," and it was none other than ex-New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Gronk's "Masked Singer" tenure came to an end as he was eliminated from the Super 9, and that's when the world found out he was behind that White Tiger costume all along.


Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

His elimination came after this rather interesting rendition of "I'm Too Sexy".

Gronkowski has been a busy man since retiring from the NFL a year ago. On top of starring in "The Masked Singer," he's also served as an NFL analyst on FOX and has taken the stage in the WWE. That's while partnering with CBD company CBDMEDIC. The three-time Super Bowl champ truly has his hands in everything.

Here are a couple of Gronk's previous performances as White Tiger: