FOXBORO (CBS) — It has not been pretty for the Patriots over the last two weeks. The team has come out of its bye week and dropped two straight, falling from the top spot in the AFC into the Wild Card mix.
Sunday’s home loss to the Bills also gives Buffalo the lead in the AFC East. With the Bills set to host the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets to close out the season, the division crown will likely end up in Buffalo for the second straight year. That’s a bit disappointing for the Patriots, whose seven-game win streak in the middle of the year had the team in contention for a postseason bye just a few weeks ago.READ MORE: Las Vegas Raiders Reportedly Preparing To 'Make A Run' At Josh McDaniels
Now, it’s looking like the Patriots will be playing on the road come Wild Card weekend — should they hang on to their postseason spot.
The odds of the Patriots hanging on remain very, very good. A whole lot would have to go wrong for the Patriots to miss the playoffs, and according to FiveThirtyEight, New England still owns a 96 percent chance to return to postseason football. The Pats end the regular season with a home game against the two-win Jaguars before hitting the road for a trip to Miami to face the 7-7 Dolphins in Week 18.
New England’s best path to the postseason is to, obviously, win out. The Patriots still control their own fate, and wins over the Jags and the Dolphins will secure their spot. Jacksonville probably won’t be too eager to win come Sunday, since a loss and a Detroit Lions win will give the Jags the top overall pick for the season straight year.READ MORE: Patriots Reportedly Sign Special Teamer Harvey Langi To One-Year Extension
The Pats could actually clinch a playoff spot next weekend with a win — as long as the Dolphins lose to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football to close out Week 16. If Miami wins Monday night, the Patriots would still be able to clinch in Week 17 with a win over Jacksonville and a Raiders loss in Indianapolis, or a win and a Dolphins loss in Tennessee.
If the playoffs started today, the Patriots would visit the 9-6 Bengals on Wild Card weekend, with Cincinnati currently atop the AFC North. There remains a chance that the Patriots could also play the Bills for a third time this year, with a 49 percent chance that the two teams will meet in the Wild Card round, per FPI.
The Patriots have made things a lot more difficult on themselves with two straight losses, but a return to the playoffs after a one-year absence remains extremely likely. Hopefully, like Bill Belichick said early Monday morning, the team has saved its best football for the month of January.MORE NEWS: Devin McCourty Will Take Some Time Before Making A Decision About His Future
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Jaguars game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1pm, and after the game stick around for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!