The Patriots will lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they can win their last two home games against the Dolphins and Bills.
New England had the best weekend possible by winning in Denver and then watching Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh all lose. The Patriots, Texans, Ravens and Steelers entered Week 15 with identical 10-3 records, but the Patriots were the only team to come away with their 11th victory.
The Ravens and Steelers had the most crucial losses, as each team held the tiebreaker over New England.
While the two AFC North teams relinquished their respective holds on the top seed, it would be even more uncharacteristic for the Patriots to do so, particularly with the Dolphins (5-9) and Bills (5-9) coming to town.
Consider this: Since 2001, the Patriots are 25-3 against teams with losing records in December and January (however, the three losses came to the Dolphins in 2004, 2006 and 2009).
This has obviously turned into the Patriots' best-case scenario. Heading into Sunday, they held a slight edge on the Texans for the second seed in the playoffs due to the finicky strength-of-victory tiebreaker. Now, they don't need any help. The Patriots just need to take care of their own business.