Patriots’ Likeliest Road to the Playoffs Explained

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The New England Patriots‘ playoff hopes are still alive. After winning four of their last five games, including a 45-0 rout of the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, the Patriots are 6-6.

With just four weeks remaining and sitting two full games out of the last AFC playoff spot, there is work to be done for the Patriots, and they will also need some help from other teams. Here are the three biggest occurrences the Patriots need to make the postseason.

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Simply Win Out

If the Patriots win the rest of their games, they will finish the season at 10-6, which is usually good enough to secure a playoff spot. You’d have to think that in a year that has seen the NFL add a seventh playoff position, that record would be good enough for the Patriots to punch their ticket as well.

However, the last time the Patriots missed the playoffs, which was 2008 when Tom Brady was injured in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season, they finished 11-5. Clearly, there are no guarantees. However, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projection tools, the Patriots’ chances of making the postseason rise to 94% if they win out.

It’s not 100% because they would still need some help.

Dolphins Finish 2-2 or Worse in Their Final 4 Games

The Patriots’ AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins are currently 8-4. The Patriots need the Dolphins to lose at least two of their final four games. Miami has a major test on the way against the Kansas City Chiefs this week, and following that contest, they play the Patriots in a rematch of the Week 1 meeting.

The Patriots defeated the Dolphins in the opener and another win would give them the tiebreaker. Even if the Dolphins were to win their other two games over the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills (no easy tasks) a 10-6 Patriots team would still beat them out for a postseason spot.

The Ravens or the Raiders Lose At Least One More Game

The Patriots also need the Baltimore Ravens and Raiders to drop at least one of their remaining four games. The Ravens’ squad has been ravaged by COVID-19 over the past two weeks, and quite honestly, they weren’t playing great football prior to that situation. The Patriots defeated them in a head-to-head matchup earlier this season, thus they own the tiebreaker there as well.

Likewise, the Patriots knocked off the Raiders in Week 3. If the Raiders finished tied with the Patriots, which would happen if New England wins out and Las Vegas drops one more of their games, the Pats get the nod.

The Ravens finish up against the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Giants.

The Raiders’ remaining schedule has them playing the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, Dolphins, and the Bills. It should be an interesting 28 days.

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