BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, checking off the first thing on the to-do list for any team looking to make a postseason run. If things roll their way in Week 18, their playoff spot will be greatly improved.

First and foremost, the Patriots have to beat the Miami Dolphins when the two teams kick off at 4:25pm. That is their main focus, as it was when players were told they clinched a playoff spot following Sunday’s 50-10 win over the Jaguars at Gillette Stadium, thanks to a Miami loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“Yeah we’re not really focused on that. We’ve got to play them this week,” center David Andrews said when asked about clinching a spot thanks to the Miami defeat. “Got a big game, playoffs don’t start for another week. We’ll deal with that when we deal with that, we’ll focus on Miami this week.”

“We’ve got more games to play. It’s as simple as that,” said running back Damien Harris. “We’ve got another tough challenge coming up next week, so that’s what our focus is – getting ready for Miami.”

Miami’s loss in Week 17 means the Patriots avoid a must-win game in Week 18, but seeding is still on the line for New England heading into the final week of the regular season. Right now, thanks to the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 17, the Patriots currently sit in the five-seed in the AFC.

Chances are the 10-6 Patriots will finish as a Wild Card team and open the postseason on the road. But the door is still open for them to win the AFC East and the No. 1 seed in the AFC in Week 18.

How Patriots Can Clinch AFC East

-Win Over Miami
-Buffalo Bills Loss To NY Jets

The door is still ajar in the division, and all the Patriots need to do is win Sunday and hope the Jets pull an upset win over the Bills. The Jets nearly knocked off Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 17 before Brady crushed the franchise once again, and the Bills looked like they were about to Bills it up when they trailed the Atlanta Falcons at halftime.

But the universe corrected itself, so the Jets will be coming off a demoralizing loss and the Bills should just have to win a pillow fight to win the AFC East for the second straight year.

How Patriots Can Claim AFC’s No. 1 Seed

-Win Over Miami
-Tennessee Titans Loss To Houston Texans
-Buffalo Bills Loss To NY Jets
-Kansas City Chiefs Loss To Denver Broncos

If you thought the AFC East was unlikely, this one is even more far-fetched. But this is what needs to happen for the Patriots to earn that coveted first-round bye in the playoffs.

Crazier things have happened, but it’s probably best to keep your Wild Card weekend open.

CBSBoston.com Staff