How Raiders’ Loss To Chargers Helps Patriots’ (Minimal) Playoff Hopes

The path is still (kind of) alive?

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert provided the New England Patriots a little bit of help during “Thursday Night Football.”

Herbert’s Chargers claimed a Week 15 overtime win over the Raiders, further slashing Las Vegas’ chances to claim an AFC wild-card spot. So, while it certainly could prove too little, too late for the Patriots, New England has an opportunity to advance in the conference standings this week.

In order to do so, the Patriots will have to travel to Miami and beat the No. 7 seed Dolphins on Sunday. If they do so, the Patriots and Raiders will have identical 7-7 overall records with New England holding the head-to-head tie breaker.

The Patriots could receive additional help if the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Baltimore Ravens. If the Patriots win and Ravens lose, New England will be a mere one game back of the seventh and final wild-card spot. The Patriots then would benefit from holding tiebreakers against the Dolphins and Ravens, as well.

Here?s an updated look at the AFC playoff standings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-1)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2)
3. Buffalo Bills (10-3)
4. Tennessee Titans (9-4)
5. Cleveland Browns (9-4)
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-4)
7. Miami Dolphins (8-5)

In the hunt:
8. Baltimore Ravens (8-5)
9. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)
10. New England Patriots (6-7)

As NESN.com?s Zack Cox thoroughly explained earlier this week, the Patriots will earn a wild-card spot if, first and foremost, they win their final three games ? against the Dolphins, Bills and Jets ? and two of the following four scenarios play out:

? Browns lose each of their final three games
? Colts or Titans lose each of their final three games
? Dolphins lose at least two of their final three games
? Ravens lose at least two of their final three games

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