The Patriots road to the post season is best summed up as slim to none. I think the last I saw, the Patriots were at a 2% chance of making the post season after Baltimore’s dramatic win on Monday.
But as Lloyd Christmas would say, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
Patriots' playoff odds dwindling even further after this Ravens win. To get in, they need to win out and have three of the following five scenarios happen: pic.twitter.com/USMzHOwPuD
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 15, 2020
How The Patriots can make the playoffs 😅 pic.twitter.com/N48RSNWicc
— Master At Work 🐬🔫 LOLPhins ⬇️ (@MasterAtWorkINC) December 12, 2020
And that chance got a big boost in the arm last night when the Chargers actually were clutch for the first time in franchise history. Congrats to them.
The Chargers did their best to blow the game with Herbert literally fumbling at the goal line before punching it in on the following play. But for once things worked out for the Pats when they needed post season help.
Now before I get too “Woe is us” about the Patriots here is a disclaimer.
I completely understand that the Patriots have been through the longest period of sustained success ever in the NFL. And possibly missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade is nothing to cry about. In fact Patriots fans are the last fan base that get’s to play the “we got screwed” card here.
And the Patriots have had multiple opportunities and chances to take care of this themselves. Like not losing to Denver or Houston would have been a great start. Beating Buffalo on the road would have been great. I could go on and on.
But I just want to point out, that historically, these things do not work out for the Patriots.
But let’s get an updated version of the graphic shall we?
Patriots Road to Playoffs. (Thread) pic.twitter.com/rIhCEs46m1
— Ryan 🇵🇷 (@ryan_m03_) December 18, 2020
The Can The Patriots Control?
The Patriots still have to win out. That is an absolute given. The playoffs have already begun for New England. If in any of their three final games, the time expires and they don’t have more points than the opposition, the Pats season is over.
And honestly I can see this week being their toughest game. Miami on the road has always been a struggle. Remember this game was actually suppose to be played in Mexico City until COVID hit. The Patriots beat Miami way back in week one, which feels like a century ago.
And in terms of football teams, it may as well been. Miami is playing really well right now. But perhaps Belichick can work his mastery of NFL rookie QB’s and pull out a W this week.
Next is Buffalo, at home. The Patriots were about 15 yards and a Cam Newton fumble away from beating Buffalo earlier this season.
And by the time that these two teams meet, Buffalo will probably have wrapped up the AFC East division. I don’t believe they are truly in the running for the #1 overall seed and the first round bye that comes with it. So do we get a Bills team that is resting its players and or just doesn’t care?
However, I don’t think there is anything that the city of Buffalo would love more than to officially knock the Patriots out of the playoffs by their hand.
And then there is the Jets which is basically the equivalent of being the crowd that gets to watch Adam Gase walk to the guillotine and mutter some final words under his hat that’s pulled down too low.
Maybe I’m too overly optimistic, but I think the Pats could win out. They could also very easily go 1-2.
What Help Do We Need?
As I pointed out earlier, the Chargers actually won and beat Las Vegas. Which actually clinches the Raiders losing two of their four. So check that one off the list, that’s done. Wooh!
The second most likely scenario for the Pats if they win out, would be Miami losing three of their final four.
The Dolphins lost to the Chiefs last weekend which is one. A Patriots win this weekend, well that’d be two. Which means they need to lose to either Las Vegas or Buffalo.
I see Vegas as more plausible than Buffalo. The Bills are week 17, and I would have to assume they are resting everyone and using that week as their own make shift bye.
Vegas on the other hand might be fighting for their playoff lives at that point. That might be the game the Patriots chances hinge upon really.
And then there is Baltimore. They need to lose two of their final three games in what appears to be a pretty easy schedule to do it. Especially after their big win over Cleveland on Monday.
The Ravens get Jacksonville who are in the Lawrence/Fields sweepstakes and appear very fine and content with tanking.
The Giants who I actually could see beating Baltimore. Former Patriots special teams coach, Joe Judge, helping his former team with a big win during week 16. The Giants have been playing well, and after going to Seattle and beating the Seahawks on the road, I’m a believer that the Giants could take down anyone, anywhere.
But then the Ravens finish off with the Bengals.
I can already see it now, the entire region of New England hyped up for running the table and doing everything they needed to do to get to that spot. And then watching Baltimore trounce Cincinnati 35-3.
The other scenarios, Cleveland losing their last three (Giants, Jets, Steelers) straight? Unlikely. Giants, very plausible, Jets no way and the Steelers is probably a win as they rest their starters.
Indianapolis losing their three (Texans, Steelers, Jaguars) remaining, the Jaguars being part of that mix destroys any hope of that happening.
I would like to think the Titans losing their final three games could be plausible (Lions, Packers, Texans). But only because I don’t see a Jets or Jaguars in that mix. Otherwise probably not still.
Have We Gotten Help Before?
In this situation? No.
Now I will say, the Pats have gotten plenty of help before in terms of bye week seeding or home field advantage. There have been a few years where they were looking at a wild card weekend round or not having home field advantage until an unlikely upset in week 16 or 17 all of a sudden vaulted them to that spot.
But the most recent example of the Patriots needing help to get in the playoffs was in 2008 with oddly enough someone else not named Tom Brady as quarterback.
That season with Matt Cassel the Patriots went 11-5. All they needed was for Brett Favre and the Jets to beat the Dolphins in the Meadowlands.
It did not work out for New England who somehow went 11-5 and did not make the post season. It’s one of the greatest mysteries in the world like the Easter Island heads or Stonhenge.
Again the last franchise to cry about having bad luck but it’s just a fact.
The other time I can recall was way back in 2002. Now this one the Pats more should just blame themselves for.
At 8-6 the Patriots faced off against the 7-7 Jets in Week 16 and lost 30-17. A win would have pretty much sealed the division, and make during the Brady and Belichick era the 2008 season simply an asterisk.
But instead it put New York in the drivers seat in week 17 and the Patriots needing help.
And it’s a somewhat forgotten incredible game during the early years of the Brady/Belichick dynasty.
I was actually on a plane coming back from my grandparents for Christmas when this game was happening and the pilot was giving us score updates as they happened, and when he said the Pats won in OT the plane exploded in cheer.
I’m looking forward to the hundreds of clicks this post will inevitably get from the NSA and Homeland Security because I put the words “The plane exploded” in order.
Tom Brady helped engineer an incredible last second comeback and make Patriots fans feel like they were god’s chosen people, ready to go to the post season.
But the Jets held serve, and played, oddly enough Brett Favre and the Packers in week 17.
How about that, the Patriots were once again at the mercy of Brett Favre in the Meadowlands.
And once again Brett flopped.
On a side note, play the NFL Primetime music at my funeral. It makes no sense, it doesn’t fit in but it’s what I want. That music is just football.
In Summary, There’s Always Next Year
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so glum. As long as Brett Fare doesn’t have to win a week 17 game in the Meadowlands it appears the Patriots are fine.
But the chances of the Pats getting in are very slim to none right now. And history, while written plenty of times by the victorious Patriots, has not been kind to New England in this situation.
2020 was going to have an asterisk next to it anyways, who cares. (Unless the Pats somehow get in, then it counts more than any season ever).