The Indianapolis Colts activated quarterback Carson Wentz from the the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, and while he is not officially cleared, the expectation is that Wentz will play Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
It serves as a welcomed development for the New England Patriots, specifically.
The Patriots can earn a postseason berth in Week 17 should they beat the 2-13 Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium AND the scorching-hot Colts defeat the Raiders. The chance that Indianapolis is able to help out New England in that scenario becomes greater with Wentz taking snaps rather than sixth-rounder Sam Ehlinger. Indianapolis is an 8.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Of note, the Patriots could still earn a playoff berth in Week 17 without the help of the Colts. The Patriots would also qualify for the postseason with a win over the Jaguars AND a Miami Dolphins loss to the Tennessee Titans.
If the Patriots, Raiders and Dolphins all win in Week 17 then New England will not be able to clinch until Week 18 when it travels to Miami for a regular-season finale. The Patriots, obviously, would rather have their playoff spot official before then, especially considering they’ve lost six of their last eight games in Miami. Tennessee is a three-point home favorite.
The Patriots could also benefit from the Atlanta Falcons defeating the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills, who currently have the same record as New England but sit in the driver’s seat of the division after a Week 16 win.
Should the 9-6 Patriots win their final two games and the 9-6 Bills lose one of the next two, New England would win the division and thus host a playoff game. Given that the Bills close their season with the 7-8 Falcons and 4-11 Jets, though, it’s a bit far-fetched. Buffalo is a 14-point home favorite entering Sunday.
Nevertheless, go Falcons.
In regards to Wentz, the quarterback was placed on the reserve/COVID list on Tuesday. Hours later the league adopted a new set of protocols which allow asymptomatic players — both vaccinated and unvaccinated — to return in five days rather than the previous 10 days. If not for the league adopting those protocols Tuesday, the Colts would have been without Wentz for the Week 17 game.
The Patriots will host the Jaguars at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.