BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ chances of making the postseason took a major hit on Sunday, when the team lost to the Texans in Houston.
The loss dropped the Patriots to 4-6 on the season, and they ended up losing ground in the AFC.
The Patriots’ loss — combined with a Denver win — dropped New England to 11th place in the conference. There are now four teams sitting between the Patriots and the third wild-card spot.
The NFL voted to expand the postseason, beginning this season, thereby adding one wild-card team to each conference and eliminating one bye atop the conference. Currently, the AFC wild-card spots are occupied by the Titans (7-3), Browns (7-3) and Raiders (6-4).
The teams outside of the postseason picture but ahead of the Patriots are the Ravens (6-4), Dolphins (6-4), and Broncos (4-6). (Denver owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots.)
AFC PLAYOFF STANDINGS
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-0 (AFC North leader)
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 9-1 (AFC West leader)
3. Buffalo Bills, 7-3 (AFC East leader)
4. Indianapolis Colts, 7-3 (AFC South leader)
5. Tennessee Titans, 7-3 (WC1)
6. Cleveland Browns, 7-3 (WC2)
7. Las Vegas Raiders, 6-4 (WC3)
8. Baltimore Ravens, 6-4
9. Miami Dolphins, 6-4
10. Denver Broncos, 4-6
11. New England Patriots, 4-6
12. Los Angeles Chargers, 3-7
13. Houston Texans, 3-7
While the Patriots do have head-to-head wins over the Raiders, Ravens and Dolphins, that figures to be less meaningful than the deficit in the standings.
With games remaining against the Cardinals (6-4), Rams (6-3), Bills (7-3) and Dolphins (6-4), getting to nine or 10 wins will be a steep challenge for New England. Even if they do go 6-0 to end the year, they’d still need all three of those 6-4 teams to lose at least two more games.
In that sense, the Patriots have not yet been mathematically eliminated from the postseason. But the loss to Houston did some major damage to those chances sticking around for long.