The road to Super Bowl LIV probably will wind through New England at least once.

ESPN’s Football Power Index on Monday projected the New England Patriots’ chances of securing the AFC’s top seed in the NFL playoffs at 72.9 percent. The 9-1 Patriots have a slight edge over the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens, and ESPN’s Kevin Seifert believes New England’s ability to grind out a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday bodes well for its hopes of securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

“Quarterback Tom Brady was short and apparently exhausted during his postgame news conference in Philadelphia, but he had no reason to be disappointed,” Seifert writes. “A November victory of any nature in Philadelphia, against a team struggling to remain in the playoff picture, is worth celebrating. By all evidence, the Patriots are going to have to continue scrapping for wins every week to keep ahead of the surging Ravens in the race for the top seed in the AFC. FPI is giving them a 72.9% chance to do so, but the Ravens really need to make up only one game after clinching the head-to-head tiebreaker in Week 9.”

FPI also projects the Patriots have a 95.2 percent chance of earning one of the top two seeds in the AFC.

New England currently is in the midst of the toughest stretch of its regular-season schedule, with contests against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Week 12 and the Houston Texans, who’ll have the benefit of extra rest, the following week.

Since FPI bases its projections on several factors, including remaining strength of schedule, Patriots fans have to be at least somewhat optimistic about the team’s chances of hosting the most important AFC playoff games in early 2020.

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