With their hard-fought, wind-chilled victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, the New England Patriots gained breathing room atop both the AFC East and conference standings.
Rookie quarterback Mac Jones attempted just three passes in the 14-10 win at Highmark Stadium, with the running game totaling 222 yards and a touchdown on 46 carries. New England now has won seven straight games and enters its bye week with a 9-4 record.
Here are the updated AFC standings:
1. New England Patriots (9-4)
2. Tennessee Titans (8-4)
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (7-5)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
7. Buffalo Bills (7-5)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1)
9. Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
10. Las Vegas Raiders (6-6)
11. Cleveland Browns (6-6)
12. Denver Broncos (6-6)
13. Miami Dolphins (6-7)
14. New York Jets (3-9)
15. Houston Texans (2-10)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
Division standing and conference record are the first and second tiebreakers, respectively, when determining conference standings. The Patriots now have a 1 1/2-game lead over Buffalo in the division and have the best in-conference record (7-1) in the AFC by a wide margin.
As such, there is nothing that can happen next week that could remove the Patriots from their positions atop the AFC and AFC East.
The Bills will visit Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the Titans hosting the Jaguars. The Ravens will visit the Browns and the Chiefs will host the Raiders.
As for the analytics-based playoff odds, The Patriots saw theirs boosted significantly.
Entering Week 13, New England had the following playoff odds, according to FiveThirtyEight: 91% of making playoffs; 45% of winning division; 22% of getting the top seed in the AFC; 10% of winning Super Bowl LVI. With the victory over the Bills, those numbers improved to 98%, 76%, 44% and 14%, respectively. The Patriots currently are tied for the third-best odds of winning the Super Bowl.
Bill Belichick’s team will return from its bye Dec. 18 for a Saturday night matchup with the Colts in Indianapolis.