BOSTON (CBS) — It’s pretty simple for the New England Patriots this weekend. Beat the Jets and they’re the No. 2 seed in the AFC and secure a first-round bye for the playoffs.
It’s really that simple. But if they lose to the 4-11 Jets, well then things get a little murky. The Patriots could still get the two-seed, but could also be the three-seed. Or the four-seed. And the later two would mean they play on Wild Card weekend for the first time since 2009.
So they can make life a whole lot easier on everyone (including themselves) by just beating a four-win team. Usually that’s a layup — or rather, an untouched waltz into the end zone — but nothing has really been easy for the 2018 New England Patriots.
That being said, the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports team is feeling pretty confident about New England’s chances on Sunday. Here are their predictions for the Patriots’ Week 17 clash with the Jets:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV
The Patriots have been perfect at home all season, and are not about to drop their final home game to the Jets. Especially with the bye (and an outside shot at the No. 1 seed) on the line.
Patriots 28, Jets 10
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
The Patriots are saying all the right things this week, treating this as a playoff game with so much at stake (the No. 2 seed and a week off). The big question is can they play a complete 60-minute game?
Rookie QB Sam Darnold went toe-to-toe with future HOFer Aaron Rodgers last week in an OT loss, as Darnold threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. However, the looming stat remains: no rookie QB has ever come to Foxboro and beaten a Bill Belichick-coached team. The Pats should try to eliminate wide receiver Robby Anderson first, and then it will be up to everyone else on the Jets to step up.
Sony Michel ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in last week’s methodical win over Buffalo, and he ran for 133 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting against the Jets in New Jersey. I would think that would be the game plan come Sunday.
Patriots 28, Jets 21
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
This one is very easy. The Pats are at home and listening to the guys in the locker room, they understand how lucky they are to be back as the No. 2 seed.
So now they’ve already started the “one-game season” mantra, and this game is something they can control. A win and they know they have a week off.
The big focus is keeping Andre Roberts and the Jets special teams under control. They will do that and put up just enough points to win this game, but still have a lot of work to do heading into the postseason.
Patriots 24, Jets 10
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
I recognize that the Patriots can’t take any team or game for granted right now. They’re just not good enough for that.
But the Jets have lost eight of nine, they’re fresh out of healthy wide receivers, and most veteran Jets players will prioritize staying healthy over taking risks.
The Patriots may not be as great as we’re used to them being. But they’re plenty good enough to take care of this business.
Patriots 30, Jets 13
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
The Patriots have not looked particularly great the last three weeks. The Jets haven’t looked particularly great all season, but they have played their opponents tough over the last month. Their last four games have all been decided by seven points or less.
But the Pats will not lose to a 4-11 team led by a rookie quarterback without any receivers, not with a first-round bye at stake. This game may look a lot like last Sunday’s 24-12 win over the Bills, where the Patriots defense plays well and the offense does just enough to get the victory, but it will get the job done.
Patriots 24, Jets 9
Tune in to Patriots-Jets Sunday afternoon on WBZ-TV — the home of the New England Patriots. Coverage begins Friday night with Patriots All Access at 7 p.m., and kicks off Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay. After the Patriots and the Jets square off at 1 p.m., switch over to myTV38 for all the reaction and analysis from the game on Patriots 5th Quarter!