The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Can the Patriots Make the Playoffs?

Posted on | October 25, 2021 | Comments Off on Can the Patriots Make the Playoffs?

In case you missed Sunday’s game, Mac Jones and the New England Patriots destroyed the New York Jets 54-13. The rookie quarterback from Alabama — Roll Tide! — was 24 for 36 for 307 yards passing, with two touchdowns, while running back Damien Harris — also Roll Tide! — racked up 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Sunday’s victory brought New England’s record to 3-4 on the season and, given the evidence that the rebuilt Patriots are finally getting their act together, everybody has started asking if it’s possible that Coach Bill Belichick’s team can make it to the playoffs. And the obvious answer is, absolutely yes. The five AFC teams with the best records so far — Tennessee Titan, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Chargers — have each lost two games. The Patriots are currently second in the AFC East behind Buffalo (4-2). Seven teams in each conference (4 division winners plus 3 wild cards) make the playoffs. So there are two ways that the Patriots could make it to the playoffs, first by winning the AFC East division title, finishing ahead of the Bills, and second by qualifying for one of the three wild card spots. There are currently two AFC teams with six losses (Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans) and two with five loses (the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars), so the Patriots are ahead of those four teams in terms of the competition for a potential wild card playoff berth. There are three other teams (the Indianapolis Colts, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos) that equal the Patriots with four losses. And then there are two other teams (the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers) that have only three losses.

At this point, the Patriots are in the third tier, with the Colts, Chiefs and Broncos, in terms of the playoff competition, behind the five first-tier teams, and just one game behind the second tier. If the Patriots could win their game Sunday against the Chargers, improving to 4-4, they would definitely be in the hunt, particularly when you consider that also on Sunday, the Browns play the Steelers (both second-tier) and the first-tier Titans play the third-tier Colts. So one of the second-tier teams will have a fourth loss on its record, and unless the Colts pull a shocking upset against the Titans, they’ll be knocked out of the third tier. Grant that the Patriots will be the underdog playing on the road against the 4-2 Chargers, an upset is not impossible. Dan Orlovsky sees a chance:


If the Patriots were to go on a four-game winning streak — which is certainly possible, if not likely — they would be 7-4 going into a Thanksgiving weekend home game against the Titans. OK, I don’t think New England can stop Derrick Henry (Roll Tide again), but even if they lose that one, taking a 7-5 record into December, I still think their playoff chances would be good. But first, they simply must beat the Chargers — next Sunday is going to be make-or-break for the Patriots’ season. Meanwhile, enjoy Damien Harris — Roll Tide!




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