FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots can seal up a first-round playoff bye before they even take the field Sunday.
If they do, though, head coach Bill Belichick might not know. He says he will not pay attention to the 1 p.m. games before the Patriots and Buffalo Bills kick off at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.
“No, I’m not planning on it,” Belichick said. “I know when we walked onto the field for the Baltimore game last week, I saw the score up on the board and that’s really the first time I saw that Buffalo beat Miami. There’s nothing we can do about any of those games. Whatever they are, they are. We just have to concentrate on what we’re doing. We need to do it for us. We’re not really worried about what anybody else is doing.”
If the Cincinnati Bengals lose to the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, New England would be guaranteed the No. 1 or 2 seed in the AFC. If the Denver Broncos, who also play at 4:25 p.m., beat the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots will be locked into the No. 2 seed.
“Again, I’m not even thinking about that,” Belichick said. “It’s not even on my radar.”
Patriots players are aware of the playoff scenarios heading into Sunday, though it seems Belichick has not gotten into the specifics with them.
“They know that if we win, we’re into the second round of the playoffs. If we don’t win, we’re most likely playing in the first round of the playoffs, and that’s really all there is to know,” Belichick said. “Who, what, when — none of that, who knows? You have to be a mathematician and have great, great vision to figure that out. We know what we can control. If we can win, we can get into the second round of the playoffs. We know that. I think right now that’s probably all we care about.”
If the Patriots, Broncos, Bengals and Colts all win or all lose Sunday, Denver would be the No. 1 seed, New England No. 2, Cincinnati No. 3 and Indianapolis No. 4. If the Patriots lose and the Bengals and Colts win, New England would be the No. 4 seed. If the Patriots lose and one of Cincinnati or Indianapolis wins and the other team loses, New England would hold the No. 3 seed. If the Broncos lose and the Patriots win, New England would jump up to the No. 1 seed. So, yeah, it’s confusing.