The New England Patriots are postseason-bound for the 11th consecutive season.
After handling the hapless Cincinnati Bengals and defeating them by a score of 34-13 following all of the controversy surrounding “Spygate II,” New England ensured that they’ll at least be a wild card team in the 2019 postseason.
By clinching their 11th consecutive postseason bid, the Patriots set a new NFL record. Making matters even more impressive, New England moved to 11-3 — meaning they’ve now won at least 11 games in 10 consecutive seasons. The Patriots also clinched a playoff berth for the 21st time in the past 26 seasons.
With that being said, we know that the Patriots are going to the postseason for sure. But the next objective is clinching the division — something that New England has done in every season since 2009. In fact, the only two seasons that the Patriots have not won the division since 2001 was in 2002 and 2008.
Here is how the Patriots can ensure they win their 11th consecutive division title.
How Patriots Can Win AFC East
The Patriots are currently 11-3 while the Buffalo Bills are 10-4 following their Week 15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because New England defeated Buffalo 16-10 in their first matchup back in September, the Patriots have the inside track at winning the AFC East and currently hold the tiebreaker.
This scenario is as simple as it gets — with two remaining home games against the Bills in Week 16 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, the Patriots can clinch the East with a win in either weeks. That means if New England stumbles against a tough Bills squad this Saturday, they will win the AFC East with a win over the struggling Dolphins in Week 17.
The only way the Patriots don’t win the AFC East is if they lose their remaining two regular season games and the Bills defeat the Patriots this weekend and then go onto to beat the New York Jets at home in Week 17.
Patriots’ Possible Playoff Seeding
New England can land anywhere from the No. 1 seed to the No. 5 seed. The No. 6 seed is out of the equation as the 8-6 Steelers and 8-6 Tennessee Titans are currently battling for that slot with two weeks to go.
Because the Baltimore Ravens are 12-2 and defeated the Patriots earlier this week, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. In other words, the Patriots would have to win their remaining two games while the Ravens would have to lose on the road versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 16 and at home versus the Steelers in Week 17.
In other words, the Patriots are realistically playing for the No. 2 seed — which means a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the Patriots’ prime competition for the No. 2 seed and they currently stand at 10-4. The Chiefs defeated the Patriots in Week 14, meaning they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Simply put, if New England wins their last two games of the season, they ensure clinching at least the No. 2 seed over the Chiefs. However, things become complicated if they drop a game and the Chiefs proceed to defeat the Bears in Chicago in Week 16 and at home versus the Chargers in Week 17. In this scenario, the Patriots would then become the No. 3 seed.
In other words, the Patriots are likely to end the season as the No. 2 seed if they win their final two games or they’ll be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed if they split the final two games. If they drop their final two games, they’ll likely be the No. 5 seed — which means opening up the postseason on the road as a wild card team for the first time in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.