Patriots Notes: Here’s What Loss To Texans Means For AFC Playoff Race


HOUSTON — Some assorted notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday night at NRG Stadium:

— The Patriots no longer control their own destiny in the battle for home-field advantage in the AFC.

Sunday’s loss, coupled with the Baltimore Ravens’ thrilling 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers earlier in the day, bumped the Patriots down to second place in the conference standings with four games to play.

New England and Baltimore boast identical 10-2 records, but the Ravens own the tiebreaker thanks to their head-to-head victory in Week 9. The Patriots also lead the 9-3 Buffalo Bills by just one game in the AFC East, with one more matchup between the division rivals still to come in Week 16.

Here’s an updated look at the AFC standings through Week 13:

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2; AFC North leader)
2. New England Patriots (10-2; AFC East leader)
3. Houston Texans (8-4; AFC South leader)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4; AFC West leader)
5. Buffalo Bills (9-3; first wild card)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5; second wild card)

The Patriots will close out the regular season with games against the Chiefs (home), Cincinnati Bengals (away), Bills (home) and Miami Dolphins (home). The Ravens, winners of eight straight, have the Bills (away), New York Jets (home), Cleveland Browns (away) and Steelers (home).

For the road to Super Bowl LIV to run through Foxboro, Mass., the Ravens must lose at least one more game than the Patriots over these final four weeks.

— The Patriots’ offense suffered a potentially significant blow when center Ted Karras exited the game with a knee injury.

David Andrews’ season-ending illness this summer thrust Karras into the starting lineup, and the fourth-year pro has performed well in that role. Before suffering his injury, he had been the only Patriots player to play 100 percent of the team’s offensive snaps this season.

James Ferentz, who made one start at guard earlier this season, finished the game in Karras’ stead. Losing an experienced veteran like Karras for any extended period would be another setback for a unit that already was forced to operate without starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn for eight weeks.

— This win was the Texans’ first over the Patriots since 2009 and head coach Bill O’Brien’s first over his former team in six tries.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave O’Brien only a brief, icy handshake after the game.

Thumbnail photo via Thomas B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports Images

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