BOSTON (CBS) — With the Raiders losing quarterback Derek Carr, a potential trip to Oakland for the AFC Championship doesn’t seem as daunting (or likely) for the New England Patriots.

The Pats won’t have to worry about traveling anywhere this postseason if they clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the Dolphins or a Raiders loss in Denver on Sunday. But that top spot in the conference is still very important in New England’s quest for another Super Bowl title, as it could set up an easier path to Houston on February 5, The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe explained to Johnston & Flynn (filling in for Toucher & Rich) Tuesday morning onĀ 98.5 The Sports Hub.

“It’s very important, almost as important as, I would say, the Broncos beating the Raiders to set up a likely showdown between either [Houston’s] Tom Savage or [Oakland’s] Matt McGloin in the Divisional Round. That gives [the Patriots] almost a double-bye. It’s important for that to fall out that way,” explained Howe.

“You’re no longer afraid about the potential of heading out to Oakland in the AFC Championship Game. But if you fall to the two-seed because the Raiders win, that opens the possibility of hosting the Steelers in the Divisional Round and the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game,” noted Howe.

The AFC field is set, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans in the three and four-seeds, respectively. The Kansas City Chiefs are sitting in the five seed at the moment, but could climb to the two-seed with a win over the San Diego Chargers and an Oakland loss in Denver on Sunday.

Howe also discussed this weekend’s Patriots-Dolphins game in Miami, touching on some key matchups for the New England defense. Listen to the full podcast below:


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