FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have the chance to walk away from Saturday with a nice early Christmas present.
The Patriots currently own the AFC’s best record at 12-2 entering their Week 16 matchup with the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. But New England can put a bow on the No. 1 overall seed — and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs — before its season finale with the Miami Dolphins. Here’s how:
First, the Patriots need to take care of business against the 4-10 Jets. The Oakland Raiders are the AFC’s No. 2 seed at 11-3, and a Patriots win coupled with a Raiders loss would clinch the No. 1 seed for New England, as no other AFC team has three losses or fewer. (The Kansas City Chiefs are the current No. 3 seed at 10-4).
Oakland will play the Indianapolis Colts at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at home, so the Patriots could lock up the top spot just as you’re settling in for Christmas Eve.
If New England loses and/or the Raiders win, the Patriots still will have something to play for in Week 17 in Miami. They’ll be looking for different results from last season, when they also were 12-2 entering Week 16 but lost to the Jets and Dolphins to finish 12-4 and allow the Denver Broncos to snag the No. 1 seed.
New England already has clinched a first-round playoff bye, but a win and an Oakland loss Saturday would ensure the road to Super Bowl LI runs through Foxboro.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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