How the AFC playoff picture shifted during the Patriots’ bye week

The Patriots remain at the top of the AFC while the Bills' slide continued.

Patriots playoff picture
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and the team celebrate a win as time runs out. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

With the Patriots on their bye week Sunday, the AFC playoff picture shifted slightly but New England remains at the top.

Here’s a closer look at everything that happened in the AFC playoff race as a whole and how it affected the Patriots.

Buccaneers 33, Bills 27 (OT)

The Bills looked lost in the first half and appeared on the verge of getting blown out as the Buccaneers jumped out to a 24-3 lead.

A huge second-half rally sent the game to overtime, and Josh Allen turned a tough first-half performance into 308 yards as a passer. But after his defense got a stop to start the overtime period, Tom Brady led a 94-yard touchdown drive capped by 58-yard connection with Breshad Perriman to clinch the victory.


The Bills fell to 7-6 with games against the Panthers, Patriots, Falcons, and Jets remaining. Their remaining opponents have a record of 23-29 (.442 winning percentage).

Browns 24, Ravens 22

Baker Mayfield put together a solid afternoon and the Browns hung on late to beat the Ravens. The big story, however, was Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who left early with an ankle sprain.

Per ESPN’s Dianna Russini, the Ravens expect to know more about Jackson’s status going forward on Monday.

The Ravens fell to 8-5. They face the Packers, Bengals, Rams, and Steelers to close their season. Those teams have a collective record of 30-19 (.612).

Chargers 37, Giants 21

Justin Herbert threw for 275 yards on 23-for-31 passing with three touchdowns and zero interceptions and the Chargers crept closer to the top of the AFC, improving to 8-5.

The Chargers still have games against the Chiefs and Broncos on their schedule, as well as winnable contests against the Texas and Raiders — 24-28 as a group (.461).

Titans 20, Jaguars 0

The Titans picked off Trevor Lawrence four times and held the Jaguars scoreless in a comfortable win to maintain pole position with the Patriots. They improved to 9-4 and lead the Colts at the top of the AFC South by two games.

The Titans have a friendly schedule going forward, with games against the Dolphins and Texans to close the season. They take on the Steelers and 49ers in the next two weeks. The teams the Titans will face on their remaining schedule have a collective record of 21-30 (.412).

Chiefs 48, Raiders 9

Patrick Mahomes was 20-for-24 as a passer, and the Chiefs recorded their biggest win over the Raiders in the history of the two franchises. The Chiefs improved to 9-4 but trail the Titans and Patriots. They lead the Chargers by a game in the AFC West with a head-to-head remaining. The Chiefs will also see the Steelers, Bengals, and Broncos (combined 28-23, .549).

49ers 26, Bengals 23 (OT)

The 49ers held off the Bengals in a wild finish. Joe Burrow connected with Ja’Marr Chase for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter — including one with 1:19 remaining — that sent the game to overtime, and the Bengals kicked a field goal to start the OT period. But the 49ers answered by marching down the field, and Jimmy Garoppolo found Brandon Aiyuk for a 12-yard game-winning touchdown pass.


The Bengals fell 7-6 with the loss. They close their season against the Broncos, Ravens, Chiefs, and Browns (31-21, .596).

The Road Ahead

As for the Patriots, their final four games include an away game against the Colts (7-6, also on their bye this week), before home games against the Bills and Jaguars (2-11). They close their season against the Dolphins (6-7). Their remaining schedule is 22-30 (.423) — only the Titans have an easier path by strength of schedule.

The Patriots and Colts kick off at 8:20 p.m. on Saturday.


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