What Jaguars Win Over Titans Means For Patriots Playoff Hopes

The Patriots could lose to Buffalo and still sneak into the playoffs


Jan 7, 2023

The Jaguars bought the Patriots a bit of wiggle room Saturday night.

Jacksonville’s 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field both clinched the AFC South title for the Jags and increased New England’s chances of landing the AFC’s third and final wild-card berth.

The Patriots now would qualify for the playoffs if they defeat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon or if the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers both lose their Week 18 games. Miami hosts the New York Jets, and Pittsburgh hosts the Cleveland Browns.

Had Tennessee won on Saturday, the Patriots’ game in Buffalo would have become a must-win for New England, as a loss would have mathematically eliminated Bill Belichick’s squad.

Regardless, the Patriots can finish no higher than seventh in the AFC. If they win Sunday and the Bengals defeat the Baltimore Ravens, New England would visit Cincinnati in the wild-card round. A Patriots win coupled with a Bengals loss would send the Pats back to Buffalo next weekend. The Patriots also would face the Bills if they lose and back into the playoffs, regardless of the outcome of the Bengals game.

The Bills, who have won three straight against the Patriots, are pegged as 7 1/2-point home favorites for this AFC East rematch. The Patriots are expecting an extremely emotional atmosphere as Buffalo takes the field for the first time since safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field last Monday night.

The Chiefs 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday gave Kansas City the No. 1 seed, but Buffalo still has something to play for Sunday. If the Bills win, a potential AFC Championship Game between them and the Chiefs would be played at a neutral site. A Bills loss would give KC home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Kickoff at Highmark Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images
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