How Patriots Can Clinch First-Round Bye in Week 17

Tom Brady

Getty The New England Patriots can clinch a first-round bye in Week 17.

The New England Patriots will either the enter the playoffs as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed.

After defeating the Buffalo Bills 24-17 and clinching their 11th consecutive AFC East crown, the Patriots are in prime position for a first-round bye. In order to do so, they’ll have to clinch the No. 2 seed. New England faces two different scenarios for clinching a first-round bye — and a home playoff game in the divisional round.

Here are the two scenarios — either beat or tie the Miami Dolphins at home or hope the Kansas City Chiefs lose or tie against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

In order for the Patriots to ensure they clinch the No. 2 seed over the Chiefs, they have to finish with a better record. That is due to the fact that the Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots by virtue of their 23-16 victory over New England in Week 14.

The Dolphins are currently 4-11, but their record is extremely misleading. They’re 4-4 in their last eight games and arguably should have won a fifth game after losing to the New York Jets in Week 14 due to a controversial overturn on a pass interference call. While the Dolphins have managed to give the Patriots a hard time during Tom Brady‘s career, they usually do so at home and not on the road. The last time the Patriots lost to the Dolphins at home with Brady under center was at the conclusion of the 2005 season.

The 12-3 Patriots are currently listed as 16 1/2 point favorites.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are 5-10 after losing to the Oakland Raiders in Week 16– a team that had been in a free fall, losing four consecutive games by an average margin of 21.8 points per game.

They literally have nothing to play for except for pride as they’ll enter their road matchup against their divisional rivals as -7.5 point underdogs. The Chargers previously lost to the Chiefs 24-17 back in November.

The Last Time the Pats Played in the Wild Card Round Was 2009

If the Patriots end up as the No. 3 seed, it’ll be the first time since the 2009 season that they’ll begin playoff play in the Wild Card Round. Of their 16 postseason appearances during the Brady/Bill Belichick era, they’ve began play in the Wild Card Round on just three occasions.

They’ll hope against a four such appearance by winning against the Dolphins in Week 17.

Tom Brady Shows Exuberance on Winning AFC East

The Patriots have clinched the AFC East — again. While it’s the 11th consecutive division title for a franchise that aims to win Super Bowl titles, Brady — a guy who has won division titles in every season he’s been a starter outside of the 2002 season — couldn’t contain his excitement following New England’s big 24-17 win over their new chief division rivals, the Bills.

“It’s pretty cool,” Brady said. “It’s hard to do, and it’s a lot of effort and hard work, and a lot of people are coming in day after day and sitting in these chairs and trying to do what’s right for the team. It’s a great reward, it’s a great step for us and it’s great to control the ability to do that, too. Happy for us, our team, our coaches, our families and our fans, and hopefully we can build on it and go play great next week.”

Brady will hope to have more to celebrate as the Pats aim to clinch a first-round bye.