Morning Sports Update

Here are the Patriots’ playoff scenarios heading into Week 18

New England controls its destiny, though a loss in Buffalo doesn't necessarily mean elimination.

Mac Jones Patriots
Mac Jones during the Patriots' win against the Dolphins on Sunday to keep playoff hopes alive. AP Photo/Steven Senne

The Patriots beat the Dolphins 23-21 on Sunday, keeping playoff hopes alive heading into Week 18. Kyle Dugger and the New England defense made timely plays against multiple backup Miami quarterbacks to help get the victory.

Also on Sunday, the Celtics lost to the Nuggets 123-111 after the game was delayed nearly 40 minutes in the fourth quarter when a Robert Williams dunk left the rim slightly bent.

On Monday, the Bruins and Penguins play at 2 p.m. on outdoor ice at Fenway Park in the 2023 NHL Winter Classic.

Patriots playoff scenarios: Following Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, the Patriots are now 8-8. Along with the Monday night matchup (Bengals vs. Bills) in Week 17, the NFL has one full slate of regular season games remaining in Week 18.


Had the Patriots’ regular season ended on Sunday (as it would’ve under the old 16-game schedule), New England would’ve clinched a spot. Still, Bill Belichick’s team still controls its destiny to possibly clinch a wild-card berth.

Here are the Patriots’ playoff scenarios:

  • The Patriots will clinch with a win over the Bills in Buffalo in Week 18

The Patriots can still get into the playoffs even with a loss to the Bills, but need all three of the following outcomes in Week 18:

  • A Dolphins loss to the Jets
  • A Steelers loss to the Browns
  • A Titans loss to the Jaguars

New England will play in Buffalo on Sunday, but the kickoff time is still to be determined by the league.

Trivia: Since Robert Kraft bought the Patriots in 1994, New England has made the playoffs more than any other team in the NFL. Can you name the team that ranks second in playoff berths over that time period?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: NFC.

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The moment the rim was knocked off-balance: An emphatic Robert Williams dunk inadvertently caused the delay.

The Bruins’ team photo prior to the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park:

On this day: One year ago, Jaylen Brown scored a career high 50 points (along with 11 rebounds) to help lead the Celtics past the Magic in overtime, 116-111.

Daily highlight: Jonathan Jones made an acrobatic sideline interception on Sunday after Tyreek Hill bobbled the intended pass.

Trivia answer: Packers


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