If you said at the end of September that the New England Patriots already had clinched a playoff spot, we’d probably believe you. But alas, the Pats technically still could miss the playoffs.
However, they finally can clinch in Week 13.
The 10-1 Patriots are set to meet the AFC South-leading Houston Texans on Sunday in a tilt between a couple of the conference’s best. Depending on the results of that game, as well as the outcomes of a few other contests, New England can punch its ticket to the postseason by night’s end.
Here are the five different scenarios in which the Patriots can clinch this weekend. Only one of them needs to happen in order for the Pats to get locked into the postseason.
The Patriots beat the Texans, and the Oakland Raiders lose or tie against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots beat the Texans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers lose or tie against the Cleveland Browns.
The Patriots tie against the Texans, and both the Raiders and Steelers lose their games.
The Patriots tie against the Texans, and the Raiders and Indianapolis Colts (who are facing the Tennessee Titans) lose their games.
The Patriots tie against the Texans, and both the Colts and Steelers lose their games.
So as you can see, it’s not quite as simple as “win and you’re in” for the Patriots just yet. But a victory over Houston certainly will go a long way in the Patriots landing a spot in the playoffs.