As the sun began to set over the top of FedEx Field and with just seconds left on the clock, the Baltimore Ravens seemed ready to clinch the AFC North title and maintain a hold on their playoff destiny. Instead, a wild turn of events changed everything, leaving the Ravens at the mercy of others for their postseason seeding.
The Ravens misfortune means the Patriots are now in full control of their playoff destiny. Even with the early-season loss in Baltimore, Tom Brady and the Patriots are sitting pretty at 9-3 and now in complete control of a potential first-round bye.
With a one-game advantage over the Ravens and a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos, New England now has the opportunity to seal their fate as one of the AFC’s top two teams over the final four weeks of the regular season.
That means that if the Patriots can win out, albeit a tall task with the Texans, 49ers, Dolphins and Jaguars remaining on their slate, they’ll automatically clinch a bye during the wild card round and secure a home game in at least the divisional round.
There’s still a long way to go before anything can be settled for sure, and for the Patriots that road begins on Monday night with a visit from 11-1 Houston, who can clinch a bye of their own with a win. It won’t be an easy feat, but now it’s all about taking care of business.