By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If it wasn’t “over” before, it’s certainly “over” now. Just not officially.
The Patriots’ playoff chances have been hanging by a thread since they lost on Thursday night to the Rams. They were briefly revived — somewhat — with some of Sunday’s results, but Monday night’s come-from-behind victory for the Ravens delivered what should be considered as the knockout blow.
The Patriots’ playoff chances are lying on the mat. Now it’s just a matter of the ref counting to 10.
With the Ravens entering Monday night’s game at 7-5, the 6-7 Patriots desperately needed a Ravens loss. That result would have kept alive the possibility of the Patriots climbing past the Raiders, Ravens and Dolphins to nab the third and final wild-card spot in the AFC.
Alas, Lamar Jackson emerged from the locker room to save the day, leading Baltimore to a 47-42 win over Cleveland.
That result dropped the Patriots’ chances of making the playoffs down to just 2 percent, based on Five Thirty Eight’s prediction model. Put another way … there’s a 98 percent chance the Patriots miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The New York Times’ prediction model paints a slightly rosier picture, but it still gives the Patriots a 4 percent chance of reaching the postseason.
If the Raiders beat the Chargers on Thursday Night Football in a couple of days, the Patriots’ chances will drop to 1 percent (via Five Thirty Eight) or 2 percent (NY Times).
As for “taking care of their own business,” that ship has sailed for the Patriots. Even if they win their final three games, the Times model gives them a 24 percent chance of making the playoffs. It’s grislier with Five Thirty Eight, which gives the Patriots just a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs with a 3-0 record over the final three weeks.
AFC WILD CARD STANDINGS AFTER WEEK 14
Wild Card 1. Cleveland Browns, 9-4
Wild Card 2. Indianapolis Colts, 9-4
Wild Card 3. Miami Dolphins, 8-5
8. Baltimore Ravens, 8-5
9. Las Vegas Raiders, 7-6
10. New England Patriots, 6-7
At the same time, the margin for error is nonexistent. If the Patriots lose on Sunday, their playoff chances drop to a big fat zero, as eight losses is not going to cut it in the 2020 season — or most seasons, for that matter.
And so, any outside chance of the Patriots sneaking into the playoffs with a dramatic late-season run has been extinguished, and it’s now just a matter of time before it becomes official.