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# Settling the scenarios

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff December 15, 2008 08:40 AM

Yesterday morning, we assumed their best shot at the playoffs was to win the division outright.

Today, it might be the wild card.

Maybe?

Before we delve into yesterday's results and their implications, let's look at some possible scenarios for the Patriots to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season. There may be a few more mathematical possibilities that slipped our radar, but these are the clearest paths to the postseason:

If the Patriots go 2-0 over their final 2 games:

• The Pats can win the AFC East if they win their final two games against Arizona (at home) and Buffalo (on the road) and both the Jets (at Seattle) and Dolphins (at Kansas City) lose next weekend (the Jets and Dolphins play each other in Week 17).
• The Pats can win the AFC East by winning their final two games against Arizona and Buffalo and the Jets and Dolphins both go 1-1 over their final two games.
• If all three teams win next weekend, and the Pats beat the Bills in Week 17, the Jets-Dolphins game on the final Sunday of the season has to end in a tie for the Patriots to win the East.

• If the Patriots win their two remaining games and the Ravens lose one of their next two games (in Dallas next week and at home vs. Jacksonville in Week 17), New England is in as the wild card. Print the shirts.

• If the Pats win out, and the Colts manage to go 0-2 vs. the Jaguars and Titans, the Patriots are in, however unlikely that scenario might seem.

If the Patriots go 1-1 over their final 2 games:

• If New England loses to either the Cardinals or the Bills, they need Baltimore to drop both of its remaining games to win the wild card.

• The Patriots would need this nifty little scenario to win the East: Dolphins lose to Chiefs AND Jets lose to Seattle AND Jets-Dolphins game ends in a tie. Like those odds?

• There's one final possibility here, albeit a very confusing one: If either the Jets or Dolphins lose their last two games; and if the Patriots lose to the Cardinals and beat the Bills; and if the Ravens beat the Cowboys and lose to the Jaguars; New England and Baltimore would have the same record (10-6), and the same record within the conference (7-5) -- which is the first tiebreaker in a wild card scenario since the teams did not face each other this season. Complicating matters is that, if our math is right, they would also be tied in the next tiebreaker -- record against common opponents. So that means it could come down to strength of victory.

Got all that?

The bottom line is the Patriots still need help to make the playoffs. If the Ravens and either the Jets or Dolphins go 2-0 over the next two weeks and the Colts win one of their next two games, New England is out of the playoffs even if they win out and finish the season 11-5. In that case, the Pats would lose tiebreakers for both the division title (to the Jets or Dolphins) and wild card (to the Ravens or Colts).

The Patriots, as assumed, did their part yesterday in soggy Oakland. Another chapter was written in the Matt Cassel story, and it increasingly rivals the one Tom Brady scripted in 2001.

The Steelers took care of the Ravens, 13-9, in an ending that might have been preferable viewing in these parts if not for having to witness the useless fourth quarter for the home team. Can't CBS run some sort of instant poll and see whether Pats fans really wanted to witness those last five minutes or the end to a game that might help determine their postseason future? Or maybe there will just be a dish under my tree.

Then there are the Bills. I mean . . . where do we go here?

I was driving back from a quick jaunt to the mountains yesterday, listening to the game on Sirius, when The Play happened. The Bills were five yards away from essentially giving the Patriots an inside edge on the AFC East. Buffalo ran for 187 yards on the day. The Jets couldn't stop them. Did I mention it was second down? Second and five.

Of course, Dick Jauron inexplicably called a pass play, and J.P. Losman did the rest. Now, for anyone who tells you that listening to a ball game is better than actually watching it, presumably on a front porch sipping some lemonade, well, they're wrong. A play like this needed visual proof. The Bills really couldn't be this dumb, and the Jets really couldn't be this lucky. And yet, the pictures did indeed verify its authenticity. If the game truly meant anything for the Bills, "Second and five" would be Buffalo's answer to "Timlin in the eighth, Williamson in the ninth."

But the Steelers' win over Baltimore was big for New England, still mired in a three-way tie atop the AFC East. While the Jets face 3-11 Seattle before the season-ender vs. Miami and the Dolphins get the 2-12 Chiefs, Baltimore has the most difficult task among the remaining AFC playoff contenders, needing to play next week in Dallas (9-5) before getting the 5-9 Jaguars at home.

So now New England's easiest shot at the postseason looks to be the wild card.

Now, just for giggles (and by that I mean raising your simmering anger for Losman to a boil), let's imagine the Bills actually beat the Jets yesterday at the Meadowlands. There would be a two-way tie atop the AFC East with the Pats and Dolphins. New England would need to win out, and hope Miami loses next week, or see if the Jets could beat the Fish in the final game for the AFC East title. It's a bit easier worrying about one team needing to lose one game (while you win out, of course) than it is worrying about three teams needing to lose.

And just to further simplify things, you'll want to root for the Cowboys Saturday night on . . . NFL Network?

That thing under my tree better not be an oversized deep-dish pizza stone.

1. What happens if the Pats, Jets, Dolphins AND Ravens finished 11-5. I know Jets get the east, but who gets the wild card? Scenario above indicates Pats get in if they tie Ravens, but does that mean Dolphins are odd team out in a three-way with Pats and Ravens?

1. I think the easiest path is the Ravens losing @ Dallas and us winning out.

1. Maybe it would be better for all to take THIS year off from the PLAYOFFS and rest and gear up for next year......?

1. if Miami wins out they win the division, so if they are all tied at 11-5, then Miami is AFC East champ..

1. Hey Patsmanin VA...they can't all end up 11-5. The Jets are playing the dolphins in the last week.

1. PatsManinVA:

It is not possible for the Jets and Dolphins to both finish 11-5, they play each other in the final week.

1. if Miami wins out they win the division, so if they are all tied at 11-5, then Miami is AFC East champ..

They can't all be 11-5 - Miami plays Jets last game.. one of them will end with 6 losses..

1. if the Pats win out and Baltimore loses, the Pats are in because the Jets & Dolphins play against one another in the final week and one of them would add that 6th losss...... the wild card is the most likely scenario, BUT the pats have to take care of business.

1. Jets and Dolphins can't both be 11-5, they still have to play each other.

1. Eric - Thanks for doing the math on this! I knew SOMEONE at the Globe was gonna figure this thing out for this morning's paper...
Pats woulda / coulda / shoulda beat the Colts. That would have made things a lot more manageable. But I guess ya can't think like that... How about if ONE less starter had not gotten injured early in the season...?

1. Simple way to look at it is Pats need two of these three teams to lose one of their last two games: Jets, Miami or Baltimore

One is guranteed, wuth Jets and Miami playing each other in week 17

The other best shot is Baltimore ... becuase they play Dallas and Jacksonville ..

If Pats tie Baltimore at 11-5 Baltimore wins the last wildcard slot based on conference record ..

1. PatsManinVA ... Jets and Dolphins cannot both go 11-5, they meet each other in the last game of the season, one must lose or a tie.

1. Jack Casey, that is true comment from a typical loser fan!!

1. PatsManinVA: Jets and Dolphins both can't finish 11-5, because they play Week 17.

1. PatsManinVA, they can't all finish 11-5, b/c the Jets play the Fish on the last weekend. Someone is going to lose that game (although a tie would work out great for NE, it just isn't very likely).

1. Jack - Take a year off of the playoffs and gear up for next year?? That's the dumbest thing I've heard yet! Gear up for what? We have so many guys on IR, they're already resting!!! What are we going to do, rest the practice squad guys who are starting now so that next year that are in better condition for the practice squad again?? Absurd. We might get passed over for the playoffs, but that's not a good thing.

1. The only place the Patsies will be for the playoffs is at Living Room Stadium WATCHING the Steelers on their way to their 6th Lombardi Trophy.

1. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Buffalo Bills and that idiot QB J.P. Losman for throwing away their game against the Jets on Sunday. The Jets played poorly and they still beat you!

Yeah, I know you weren't playing for New England fans... But you weren't even able to get out of your own way. Thanks for nothing.

1. The Bills are PATHETIC!!!!! When did someone think Dick Jauran deserved another head coaching job after his wonderful stint in Chicago. Seriously.... 2nd and 5 and you put the ball int he hands of your well below average QB. When you've been dicing up the Jets defense with the run all day. I sat there with my mouth wide open for about 5 minutes after that play. Unbelievable. The Jets did all they could to lose that game and they still won!!!!

1. as best I can tell, scenarios 2 and 3 under "If the Patriots go 2-0 over their final 2 games" are logically inconsistent.

1. it is not entirely correct, the Jets and Miami dont both have to loose next weekend,bottom line if the Jets and Miami each drop one in the final two they are 10-6 both, NE wins out at 11-5 they win the east,

1. Jon: Not true. If the Jets lose next week, then we'll be rooting for them to beat the Dolphins. If the Dolphins lose next week, then we'll be rooting for them to beat the Jets. That way they'd both have a loss over the final two weeks, whereas if they both win next week, they can't both have a loss and we'd be stuck rooting for a tie.

1. Easiest way to win the AFC East (in my opinion):

1) We win out
2) The Jets and the Dolphins play each other the final weekend, one of them must lose (or tie which means we win).
3) The WINNER of the Jets/Dolphins game loses next week.

If one of those two teams LOSES next week, that is who we root for in their game head to head. Each one of them will have loss, we win out, we win the AFC East.

1. All in all I think the chances are VERY GOOD to make the playoffs if we win out. I even think the possibility of catching the Colts is better than Eric thinks. Certainly Tennessee can beat them and Jacksonville is a division game on the road on a Thursday night against a disappointing but dangerous team.

1. PatManinVA, Jets and Dolphins are playing against each other week 16, so one of them won't be 11-5.

1. I can't believe the governement lets some of you people breed. obgod2, how many times does it have to be printed, the Jets and the Dolphins play each other week 17, so just the same as one has to lose, one also must win. If they both win week 16, one of them will win week 17, therefore one will be 11-5 along with the tie breaker over NE. It's not rocket science.

1. If it comes down to having to win the division in Week 17, I don't like the schedule with both games at 1pm. Say the Jets lose in week 16, their only chance to make playoffs would be to beat Dolphins AND hope for us to lose. Our only hope would be for Jets to win AND we win. If we go up big on Buffalo, the Jets lose incentive and I wouldn't put it past RatGini to let the Dolphins win. Maybe we could get our game switched to 4pm. Either that or let the Bills stay close, but that would be dangerous.

1. Clearly it is better for the Patriots long term hopes to have Cassel poop the bed in one or both of these last two games and get a loss or two.

Rest up, get healthy, get mid-round draft picks to rebuild the ancient defense, have Cassel's value drop, etc.

This team is NOT a Super Bowl contender and squeaking into the playofffs this year would be a one and done scenario and not benefit the team/organization. I don't want to see replacement caliber players going to Heinz Field and losing 42-9 in January. No thanks.

1. I was extremely angry at JP Losman yesterday. I think the folks on ESPN radio said it best, when you really had to blame the Bills coaching staff for assuming that JP Losman wouldn't blow it.

1. i like how everyone thinks Pats fans rooting for one or the other of the jets or dolphins somehow increases their chances of winning.

1. zitface:

No chance that happens. Mangina isn't going to take a dive to give the playoffs to Miami instead of NE. That's just silly.

1. To CTSteelerFan.....LMAO. You are completely delusional. You see, unfortunately you do have to score some points to win in the playoffs and the Steelers seem incapable of that. Talk about offensively challenged. They can only score if their defense creates turnovers, and they can't live on that hope in the playoffs.

But it's nice that you have hope, as warped as it is.....LOL

1. Clearly, the easier path to the playoffs is the wild card route. We have a more likely hope of the Ravens losing 1 of the 2 remaining games (esp. next week's game at Dallas) than hoping that both the Jets and the Dolphins will lose 1 game each, even with them meeting in week 17. I think we will get the wild card.

1. Here is the scenario I like best:

It is all tied up at a snowy Ralph Wilson stadium, and recently activated Doug Flutie comes off the bench to pooch kick the winning point as time expires. Lonnie Paxton make snow angels in the end zone, as Gil and Gino go nuts in the broadcast booth.

The Pats win the East, The Pats win the East !!!

PS They will likely lose in the first round of the playoffs however.
Sure they lose in the first round but

1. point is, it is gauranteed that EITHER the Jets or the Dolphins lose in the last week....because they are facing off agains one another. basically, we'll want the dolphins to beat the jets but lose next week with us winning both weeks. That would put us at 11-5 with a division record of 4-2. The Dolphins would end up 10-6 with a division record of 4-2, hence, we win the division because of the better overall record. if the dolphins win both, however, then it would come down to some sort of tie breaker. also, if the jets win the next 2 and we win the next 2, then the Jets win the division because of the better division record.

1. I'm a draft-junkie, but the more I think about it, getting a higher draft pick doesn't really lead to a quick turn-around. Exhibit's A & B: The Raiders and Lions, have been picking in the top 10 for most of a decade now. They still suck.

Need more examples? The Bills haven't reached the playoffs for a NFL-eternity, they still suck. The Browns? One good year, then back to the tank. The Cards of yester-year, the 49ers of the past decade...

But teams like the Pats & Steelers draft in the high 20s every year, and they always compete for a championship each year.

Screw losing and getting a better pick. I'll take the playoffs. (But that Chargers #2 pick that we own is looking mighty good!).

1. All 4 teams CAN'T finish 11-5 because the Jets and Phins play each other in week 17.

1. If the Pats wins next week, Kansas City loses, Denver loses, Indy ties, and San Diego wins, the Patriots are in. If the Bills lose but the Saints win and beat the Titans, then Oakland needs to defeat the Giants and Seattle has to lose. If that doesn't happen, then the Patriots need to win the first game, lose the last game, Baltimore needs to win against Dallas, lose to Jax, Jax needs to beat Indy and Balt, and Kansas City needs to win the rest of their games. Of course, if Atlanta falls to Pittsburgh and Washington beats the Panthers, then it's all over.

1. On days like yesterday, the New Haven television market is really the best place in the country to live if you're a football fan. We get both the Hartford *and* the New York City local stations for all four networks. So when the Pats game went into laugher, run-out-the-clock territory, we just switched over to the thrilling end of the Steelers/Ravens game (thank you, bonehead review ref!!).

1. it is pretty hilarious how commenters continue to replay scenarios that this blog post ALREADY COVERS.. WTF?

1. Is it just me or is anyone else annoyed with Singletary's decision to kick a FG on 4th & 5 from the Miami 10 with under 10 minutes to go in the game? What good did that do? 14-6 becomes 14-9 and you still have to score a TD to win the game.

1. Honestly, the chances of making the playoffs if the Pats go 1-6 are ridiculous (Balt loses both or Jets/phins lose next week and end in tie). So, with that, it's a lot simpler..... With Pats going 1-1 there are 3 ways to make it: Indy loses both, Baltimore loses 1, Jets and Phins lose 1each (since they play each other, 1 MUST lose this week and beat the other the next. I may be wrong here, but the last time the Pats missed the playoffs, it was also a tiebreaker.

Now as for being a Superbowl contender... why not? Of the teams in the playoffs Pitt and Tenn are the toughest matchups and yet I think we COULD beat one of them. I wouldn't bet money on it, but why not. we have the coaching, our QB keep getting better, our Rbs are getting healthy, and our LB corp while old has experience with an infusion of Mayo.

as for the draft pick nonsense.... at this point going 0-2 in final 2 games wouldnt move us up enough to make an impact even if I wasn't convinced the Pats at least had a SHOT at the Super Bowl.

This year reminds me in a lot of ways to 2001. No reason to lose the faith. It sucks though that we could go 11-5 and not make the playoffs.

1. What if the Jets vs. Dolphins game in Week #17 ends in a tie?

The Patriots organization is already preparing a "2008 AFC Wildcard Winner" banner. It will be available for viewing for \$5 per eyeball or for purchase for \$49.95 plus applicable taxes if you show your Patriot Nation membership card and you can show a receipt for a purchase from a retailer in Patriots Place.

Go Pats!!

p.s. Look for a new logo and alternate road jerseys for 2009!!!

1. Hi Draft Junkie... I think it has more to do with WHO is drafting, then WHERE. I'm all for Bill getting more value to work with but I don't necessarily want them to throw a game for it. Pats win out, Ravens lose to Dallas, and Pats get wildcard.

1. If the Patriots win out..... Are the Patriots going to be able to win against Arizona? Now that Arizona won the division, will they be playing their starters the whole game? Comments?

1. The final scenario covered by Eric "If the Patriots lose to the Cardinals and beat the Bills and if the Ravens beat the Cowboys and lose to the Jaguars, New England and Baltimore would have the same record (10-6), and the same record within the conference (7-5) -- which is the first tiebreaker in a wild card scenario since the teams did not face each other this season..." only helps the Pats win the wild card if the same team (Jets or Dolphins) lose both of their last 2 games. Because if both Jets and Dolphins win next week (and don't tie in the final game), then the winner of the final game wins the AFC East, and the loser has a 10-6 record. Three-way tiebreakers (Jets/Dolphins vs. Pats vs. Ravens) are decided by division tiebreak rules first, so the Pats lose a tiebreaker to either of the Jets or Dolphins. It would then be a tiebreaker between Jets/Dolphins and Ravens. But even if the Jets or Dolphins lose their last 2 games, and it's the winner with 11-5 as AFC East champ, the loser 9-7 out of the playoffs, and the Pats/Ravens each at 10-6 (under the odd scenario presented above), the common opponents are: Pittsburgh, Indy, Miami and Oakland. The Ravens are 2-3 (wins vs. Miami, Oakland) as are the Pats (wins vs. Miami and Oakland). The current strength of victory for Baltimore (assuming a win vs. Dallas) and New England (assuming win vs. Buffalo) is: BAL = 0.3881, NE = 0.3786 -- so even that one doesn't go our way. Practice saying the following: "Let's Go Cowboys!"

1. If the Pats win out, they will get in. Baltimore will lose to Dallas. Dallas has alot on the line and it is a home game. Not only that but the Jets and Dolphins looked terrible yesterday. I could easily see the Jets losing Sunday, lets not forget, they got killed by the 9ers last week. If they make the wildcard, their first round game will most likely be against Denver, and I would have to say the Pats would be favorites. If they could win that, they would play Tennessee and I can see them also winning that. But for now it is just win and win and your in.

1. Not rocket science. Instead of relying on a crummy Chiefs or Seahawks team to pull an upset at home, we should all be rooting for the suddenly HOT Cowboys to beat an overrated (and dissapointed - today) Ravens team.

You never know what happens this time of year, but the Pats are playing well, and will win out. If the Cowboys, in a virtual non-conference playoff game with the Ravens, can pull it out, starting Sunday at 1 PM EST, the Pats control their own destiny for the final wild card spot (and a likely return trip to Miami or NYJ - where the Pats won this year) yummy...I smell a possibele trip to Tennessee or Pittsburgh if things turn out the way they should...

1. For whomever asked what happens if the Pats, Dolphis, and Ravens are all tied:

NFL tiebreaker rules between 3 or more teams for the Wild Card over multiple divisions force that ties within the division need ot be settled first:

"Wild Card Team 3 or more teams: Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding"

This means if the tie is between the Pats, Ravens, and Dolphins, the rules first decide who's the highest remaining seed in the AFC East, which would be the Dolphins. Then they decide between the Dolphins and Ravens using the remaining Wild Card tiebreak rules.

1. If you think Losman's hated in NE, here in central NY...

1. The loser of the jets-miami game is out of the playoffs. Dont see NE and BAL losing twice so that game is huge for both. The sad part is Baltimore's def is as good as pitt's and they could be sitting home for the playoffs while NE's 5th string def plays whomever. (Im a NE fan BTW)

And I dont blame Losman as much as I blame the most awefull playcall by a head coach since rich kotite headed up the jets. He should be fired no doubt. Grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

1. Let's keep it simple:

if the Cowboys beat the Ravens (at home, mind you), then the Pats have the inside path to the wild card.

If that doesn't happen, the Pats are probably screwed. Though the Jets have reverted to form, the Dolphins don't look like they'll lose to either the Chiefs of the Jets at this point. I wouldn't worry about the division much.
And the Jets-Dolphins game is absolutely not going to end in a tie.

1. T. Owens having a big game could be the Pats salvation..."Could you please piss on my jellyfish wound"?

1. Wasn't Manning 'In the Grasp'? I still haven't resolved last year.

1. Hey, CTPATSIESFAN, WHAT THE F ARE YOU SMOKING?! 3 seasons ago, NO ONE SCORED OVER 18 points on us in the playoffs, and we didn't score less than 21 points, and our defense is better than that defense, NOT allowing a single team to get 300 yards offensively this season, not to mention the whipping your Patsies took. So, enjoy our journey to our record breaking 6th Lombardi trophy, something the Patsies will NEVER see without cheating or Vinateri! You should be kissing my hairy beanbag for our team beating the Ravens yesterday.

1. Best case scenario ... and rather likely based on records/upcoming opponents .... Jets win out, NE wins out, Baltimore loses to Dal ..... Jets having the better division record of teams playing first weekend and NE having the worst record of the two wildcard teams ... NE plays Jets on Wild Card weekend ..... and eliminates them from the playoffs in the Meadowlands

Week 16 - Pats lose to Arizona, Fins lose to KC, Jets Beat Sea
Week 17 - Pats beat Buf, Fins Beat Jets
I have the Pats winning the Division because of best common game record between all three teams.

1. The "best" part of the BUF-JETS fiasco: Jauron gets rewarded with a contract extension through 2011. As distressing as that game's finish was to watch, it's also true that it wasn't the Bills or Jauron who put the Pats in the position they are now in. Nope, that Pats did that. Still, even if they fail to make the playoffs - and if they do, how far would they go? - in my eyes their season is already a success. Did people really think that after losing TB a few plays into the season, it'd be smooth sailing thereafter. Well, it hasn't been, but Cassel has stepped up and the Pats have to some extent overcome other injuries that would have relegated many teams to a bad season by now. The Patriots, no matter what, will finish above .500. Under the circumstances, that's an accomplishment. All that said, I still hope they make the playoffs!

1. This (patriots) team is so beat-up this year, either way, if they make the playoffs or not, I still feel good about this years record.
For those of you complaining about the game CBS broadcasted in your area, you should try being out here in So-Cal having to watch the Chargers and Chiefs trying to get out of each others way for 4 quarters. When the Pats were playing right up the coast. Of course out here it's either the Chargers, Raiders or one of the N.Y. teams every week-end.

1. Arizona game is not in any mean a given. The Cardinals have a good chance for a playoff spot with Dallas going against the Raven. Our secondary is going to have it's hands full.

1. What if NE, Miami, and NYJ finish 10-6, and Baltimore finishes 9-7. Would the Pats still get the wild card?

1. Here's what's going to happen:

Jets lose to Seattle this Sunday, Miami wins;
Jets beat Miami the following week;
Patriots win out.

Final AFC East standings:

Pats 11-5
Jets 10-6
Phins 10-6

A fourth seed in the division would likely have the Pats playing the Colts in the first round. At home! I like the Pats' chances.

1. NANA NAAA NAAA, NANA NAAA NAAAA, HEY HEY HEY.........

1. i think we're looking at the PATS to be the first 11-5 team not to make the playoffs.

1. Even if they don't make the playoffs, I consider this to be Belichick's finest season yet. He will have eked out a winning record despite a ton of injuries. What do you think the odds are of next season being a repeat, in terms of injuries, what this season was? It's statistically possible, but not probable. Besides, they are not going anywhere in the playoffs. Not with their depth on defense gone and hanging by a thread. Look, they'll get a higher draft position and Pioli and his staff can get to work getting the defense reloaded and maybe picking up another offensive lineman. Greatest need is still defensive backfield and linebacker. Next, I would say is offensive line. Franchise Cassell for one year, in case Brady does not make it.

1. I'm suprised with the many that think the league is pro Patriots, that someone hasn't suggested that the TD reversal in the Steeler/Raven game was done to help the Patriots. I guess the Jet fans aren't smart enough to start that story.

1. The Jets will lose one or two over the next two weeks. They are not a playoff team. Tennessee went into the game with the Jets overconfident, the Patriots beat the Jets after giving up several chump TDs at the start of the game, the 49ers beat the Jets and the Bills beat the Jets last week (how many Ws can they get for games they've actually lost?).

They Ravens play two tough teams, but the Ravens actually are a playoff team and it is likely that they will win both games.

I see the Dolphins losing one and the Jets losing one over the next two weeks and - Pats winning out, of course - the Patriots get the AFC East, the Colts and Ravens get the Wildcards.

And yes, Manning was In the Grasp. The whistle should have been blown and the game should have ended, giving the Patriots the title and saving Ellis Hobbes from another embarrassment (game plan for any team playing the Patriots: throw the ball at Ellis Hobbes on every play from scrimmage... you can't lose...).

1. According to the tiebreaking procedures on NFL.com if the Pats and the Dolphins win out, the Pats will win the AFC East Division.

Given the results in the first 14 games and assuming the Pats and Dolphins win their games 15 and 16, they would both complete the regular season 11-5. the Jets would necessarily be 10-6 or 9-7.

As to the Pats and Dolphins, tiebreaker 1, head-to-head w-l record (1-1), and tiebreaker 2, Division record (4-2), would be pushes

The Pats would win the Divison based on Tiebreaker 3, records against common opponents. The Pats were 10-2 compared to the Dolphins' 9-3.

1. Making the playoffs this year is a waste. Pat's defense won't be able to get past the first round, sorry to say. Too many injuries. Won't be the offense that keeps the Pats from the Super Bowl.

1. It's a shame that the winner of the AFC West will probably be 8-8 or 9-5 and get into the playoffs while an 11-5 team would be eliminated. If they just took the 6 best records, we wouldn't need help to get into the playoffs - just to win the last 2 games.

1. Cassel is the man

1. What bothers me is all the "experts" who are saying that the Pats can't get very far in the playoffs even if they made it. Really? If Baltimore loses to Dallas and the Pats make the playoffs as the 6 seed, they would open up on the road against the 3 seed, which would be either the Jets or Dolphins. Could they win that game? Yes. After that, they would have to play the 1 seed on the road, which would likely be the Titans. Could they win that game? Yes. An AFC Championship Game on the road against either Pittsburgh or Indy would be extremely difficult to win, but anything is possible. Remember Tony Siragusa snapping Rich Gannon's leg anyone? The Pats have a GREAT chance to make a run at it.

1. If Miami loses KC and then beats the Jets, I think the Pats can afford a loss against Phoeniz and still win the division, assuming they beat Buffalo.

1. Its time to turn Gillette into a competitive advantage this weekend in Foxboro v the Cardinals....Would love to see a week long campaign by the fans building up to Sunday with a focus on being the loudest , supportive, 12th man in the NFL. Fans have a great opportunity to really let it rip for their team this Sunday...especially for Matt Cassel....there should be at least a 5 minute standing ovation when he is introduced...lets show him how we all feel about his leadership and commitment to his team during a tough time for Matt and his family....he deserves our best Sunday....this could be last time we see the boys live till next year...whats the battle cry for the week?

1. Time will tell

1. iF THE celtics beat utah and the bruins lose to buffalo, then the revolution needs to at least tie, but not score more than 4 goals, against the cosmos. In this scenario, john mccane wins the presidency and al franken makes the playoffs---got it?

1. The Pats can win the division by going 2-0, yet both the Jets and Fins don't need to lose next weekend. Only one of them needs to lose, and then the other team needs to win in the Jets-Fins finale. The Pats would be one game ahead of both then.

1. Rick D is right on. The Cowboys must beat the Ravens on Saturday night and we must win two. That's it. If not, then we're praying for miracles in Seattle and Kansas City on Sunday! But let's be careful what we pray for. A playoff game could be ugly. Can we still put 11 on the field on defense?

1. If Pats make it to the post-season, they will have at least one winnable game against Denver or Indy. (Remember they played Indy close). If they were the lowest ranking WC entrant, they'd get Tennessee which is probably a more winnable than at Pittsburgh. Despite offensive woes Pittsburgh is a similar team to Tenn with a better QB. Getting to playoffs will be tough, but possible. Surviving to SB is extremely unlikely, but there's no clearly dominant team in AFC (like there was last year).

1. DICK JAURON IS AN ABSOLUTE IDIOT. AFTER I SAW THAT PLAY, WHILE ALSO CONSIDERING THEIR COLLAPSE FROM A 4-1 START, I FIGURED FOR SURE HE'D BE GONE. THEN I SEE THAT HE GETS A 3 YR CONTRACT EXTENSION??? BILS ARE DONE FOR AT LEAST 3 MORE YEARS.

1. Good job on the research for the article Eric (and rest of editorial staff)

1. Not only good job with the research but well written and entertaining.

1. "The only place the Patsies will be for the playoffs is at Living Room Stadium WATCHING the Steelers on their way to their 6th Lombardi Trophy."

Dream on, McDice

1. "The only place the Patsies will be for the playoffs is at Living Room Stadium WATCHING the Steelers on their way to their 6th Lombardi Trophy."

Dream on, McDice

1. "I don't want to see replacement caliber players going to Heinz Field and losing 42-9 in January."

Like we lost to them in Pittsburgh in the playoffs in 2005 when they were 15-1 and we were 14-2? Get a grip.

1. dmpc, wake up. This Patriots team isn't even close to the 2005 Patriots team. That is just a terrible comparison that shows that you are a homer.

1. That J.P. Losman rollout looked like something Jauron went with because it was a lost season anyway. Given that this might be his last season with the Bills, we were wondering whether a rich Jets backer called that play in with the promise of some cash money.

1. If Pats win out, they have better than 50 % chance to getting into playoffs. BAL will likely loose one of the remaining 2. I also like Favre to throw 4 ints in next game - its long overdue - then beat fish.

1. Rob S. and Vincent- Jack Casey was alluding to a ridiculous question asked by a reporter to Belichick a few weeks ago about whether he would rest his starters during the short week.

(I think. It was funny if he was.)

1. Those lucky enough to have NFL Network can root for the Jags against Indy on Thursday night then the Boys over the Ravens on Saturday night. Then Sunday's Pats game at 1pm and then watch the Jets lose to Seattle at 4pm. It's like the playoffs have started already.

1. I wouldn't worry Pats fans. This is the way I see it. The Seedings: 1) Tenn, 2) Pitts, 3) NYJ, 4) Denver, 5) Indy and 6) Pats. The Pats will win out. The Jets will win out. The Dolphins lose in finale & finish at 10-6. Ravens will lose to the Cowboys and finish 10-6. We can't play the Jets in 1st round b/c being a division foe. So we beat Denver. Indy beats Jets. In round 2, we beat Tenn (they're over-rated) and Indy beats Pitts in grueling game. So Indy v Pats in AFC championship game... Again.

1. ok, now that all has been said....

raise your hand if you think we should have gone for 2 at the end of regulation against the Jets?

I thought so.

if the pats win out and miss the playoffs, I will hold BB accountable for wussing out at the end of the game.

[I will give him every credit for taking a beat-up injury ridden team and getting them to 11 wins. That would be an amazing accomplishment. Even winning 9 games under the events of this season is awesome. But to be truly great means maximizing your chances for successes, every game, every quarter, every snap, every situation. On that PAT, BB blew it.]

1. Rosie Colvin strip sacks Payton Manning and the Pats recover and win the Super Bowl, 31-27...

1. Why are there so many people who want the Patriots to miss the playoffs on here. Gearing up for next year is not an option. You don't know what injuries and other challenges they will face next year. This year is still here. The Patriots have to try and win it all this year. First make the playoffs and then 4 games to glory. There isn't one unbeatable team in the AFC this year.

The Steelers look good, because they have been finding ways to win, but they are far from unbeatable this year. Titans seem to be a bit of a fraud plus they may have just lost their best player. It's wide open.

1. Jesus Christ! This is why I hate Pat fans. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? HOW MANY MORE SUPER BOWLS, DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS, "PERFECT" SEASONS WILL YOU GUYS BE HAPPY WITH????
Let someone else win for once. As much as I would hate to see the Jets win the division, the only thing worse would be to ONCE AGAIN have the Patsies win it.
Jeeeeesus! The arrogance....

1. Honestly, we could be 11-3 right now had we beat the colts(which if you ask any fair colts fan, they would say the squeaked their way through, with the required-gaffney drop and the unwarranted david thomas penalty) and jets(the 3rd and 15 in OT was a great opportunity to give the ball to the offense).

But hey, whether they make the playoffs or not, all pats fans have to be proud of the effort the team has put in.

Just a few months ago everybody wrote us off, saying we lost an irreplaceable player. And now we are looking at a potential playoff spot.

1. i want to comment on the poll about what NE would do with cassell. I am certain if the patriots franchise him they will not have to commit 1/3 of the payroll to him and tom. there are many teams who need a quarterback and will easily trade their first round pick for him. This scenerio really makes the most sense for the patriots as it allows them to control how it will play out. Do you want him going to someone in the AFC EAST? now we can trade him to the rams or the chiefs or any one else... and he is still going to get megabucks....I am surpized mike would reflect it like that in his column and I do think bill b would just let him go if hadnt really increased his value to where it is....it just really does not make any other sense than to franchise him just think two firsts and two seconds....ya you know how they like to play with those...nice....right back on top

1. Meredith, what are you complaining about? This is the SAME REF that was the Ref in the "Tuck Rule" Game. This is AT LEAST the 2nd time this Ref has helped you, so STOP COMPLAINING! Also, Tony G(ay), you DON'T know football, the 3rd seed would play the 6th seed, REGARDLESS if they are in the same division! I think it is fantastic that the team with the TOUGHEST schedule this season is playing for the #1 seed in the playoffs this weekend, that's right, the Steelers, meanwhile, the team with the EASIEST schedule, that's right, the Patsies, are currently the 8th seed. Warm up your La-z-boys Belicheat and the rest of the Patsies.

1. Aww, c'mon. The Pats go 11-5 and miss the playoffs. Can't happen. Next thing you tell me is the Pats could go 16-0 and lose the Superbowl.

1. all steelerfans make me laugh.
They think they have great teams.
What they have is great refs that are on the take... that last SB they were in was called in... Sea hawks got screwed. Even the commontators who normally are up in the box wearing their skirts and shakng their pom-poms as they cheer for their steelers made comments about how the refs gave the steelers the game. in fact it is the only SB that when finish the discussion was about what they should do about how to choose refs for the play-offs (not that it would really matter.)Between steeler and cowboys I dont know who pays more for refs.I really like the play your coaching staff called way back when in the AFC divisional play-off game when the ball bounces of the helmet of John'' Frenchy'' Fuqua and into the hands of Franco Harris... great call.Steelers better hope we dont get in. nobody evens the score better than the pats. Its not so bad that your luck its that you got the refs in you pocket too.
SO... if we are watching the steelers nobody will be laughing harder than us when you loose while being lucking and riding in on the same buse as the zebras'.

1. Tony...This isn't baseball...Divison Teams can play each other in the first round of the playoffs...Seeding is all that matters...So your little wet dream will have to wait.

1. If the Patriots lose to the Cardinals and beat the Bills
And the Dolphins lose to Kansas City and beats the Jets.

The Patriots will win the Division Based on:
Head to Head Vs Common Opponents over the Jets and Dolphins, at 10-6 records apiece.

After week 1 who thought Pats fans would cheer for KC ever again.

1. Boy, there really are some fair weather Patsies fans on this board, don't even know the rules of the game. And patsattack, the Immaculate Reception is probably the MOST reviewed and talked about play in the NFL EVER! It has been shown and backed up that the ball bounced off of Jack Tatum. You must really be John Madden, cause neither one of you can accept the truth. Here's another truth, the Patsies will NEVER win a Super Bowl WITHOUT cheating or Vinateri! DMPC, at least a true Patsies fan is seeing it right, there is no way your team is as good as your 2005 team. Egor, Colvin strip sacks Peyton Manning and the Patsies win the Super Bowl? Perhaps where you live with the rest of the fair weather Patsies fans, in Fantasy Land, but here in the US of A, where the Super Bowl is played for real, the Patsies WILL NOT FACE the Colts in a Super Bowl, because they are BOTH AFC TEAMS!

1. Hey, DMPC, see if you can guess what I am now:

In 2005, we lost our starting quarterback in the first game, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, and we had to have our back up quarterback start the rest of the season, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, and he was a rookie, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. And he won 16 games for us that year.
By the way, that back up quarterback's name is Roethlisberger. See, GREAT teams have players step up when another player is hurt, the rest of the teams make excuses as to why they have the EASIEST schedule in the league and are STILL on the outside looking in for a play off seed.

By the way, I AM A PATSIES FAN, GET IT!?

1. I am a huge Pats fan living in TX, (relocated from Providence) I hate the cowgirls, but I will be rooting for them this week against the Edgar Allen Poes. The girls face a MUST WIN game here and they have the talent to git er done. So buck up Pats fans, all we have to do is win out. Pats experience will take them far into the playoffs. PS: I curse the Bills for that fumble, and pray for no more dropped balls by Pats receivers!

1. That Bills/Jets game HAD TO BE BOGUS SINCE BOTH TEAMS KNOW IT WOULD KNOCK THE JETS OUT & BASICALLY PUT THE PATS IN & BOTH TEAMS HATE THE PATS....IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO GO WITH A PASSING PLAY ON 2&5 WHEN YOU POUNDED THE BALL FOR 140+ RUSHING YARDS ALL DAY.
i THINK THERE SHOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION BY THE LEAGUE & CHECK ALL PHONE RECORDS OF EVERYBODY ON BOTH TEAMS & SEE IF ANYONE HAD BEEN IN CONTACT WITH ANYONE FROM EACH TEAM PRIOR TO THAT GAME.CUZ IT WOULD BE JUST LIKE A LOW-LIFE NEW YORKER TO CALL THE BILLS & SAY"LISTEN YOU GUYS CANT WIN ANYWAY SO GIVE US THE GAME SO WE CAN GET EVEN WITH THE PATS FOR THEM TAPING US LAST YEAR"

1. Another playoff spot gone Patsies fans

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