How Week 14 Holds the Key to the Patriots Playoff Hopes


This is the week.  New England's 2020 playoff hopes could receive a huge jolt if all falls correctly, or they could diminish greatly and basically close the book on their season.  Mathematically, the Pats cannot be eliminated from playoff contention this week.  But if things break a certain way, that window will all but shut.

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Currently sitting in tenth place, two games out of the final playoff spot with just four games to play, priority number one for New England is to win the rest of their games.  There is no scenario where the Patriots get in with nine wins.  Heck, right now there's no guarantee that ten wins gets them in either; but that could all change this weekend.  

While New England is chasing several teams, they need to leapfrog three in order to find themselves in a playoff spot.  To me, the three teams to focus on are Miami, Las Vegas and Baltimore.  If all goes right this weekend, New England could somehow come out of Week 14 controlling their own playoff destiny at 7-6.

Here's how:

First things first, New England has to beat the Rams on Thursday night.  No small task.  Not impossible, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if Cam Newton throws for less than 100 yards for a third straight week, the Pats are toast.  He will need to make some plays through the air, as well as on the ground.

If the Pats take care of business, all eyes then turn to Miami, who hosts Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.  In the likely scenario that Miami loses, that puts New England just one game behind the Dolphins, with a a matchup in Miami the following week.  A Week 15 victory in Miami would mean New England locks up the tiebreaker advantage over Miami. 

So, a Pats win on Thursday, followed by a Dolphins loss on Sunday and capped off by a Patriots victory in Miami the following week, would put the Pats ahead of Miami in the standings.  

Still with me?  Good.  Before we get to a Week 15 showdown between Miami and New England, there are two other games Pats fans will want to keep a close eye on in Week 14.  

Let's say Kansas City takes care of Miami at 1 PM, in the 4 PM window you'll want to take in the Las Vegas and Indianapolis game.  The Pats are just one game behind Vegas in the standings, but own the tiebreaker with their victory back in Week 3. 

A Vegas loss to the Colts, combined with a Patriots victory over the Rams, would put the Patriots ahead of Vegas in the standings. 

Lastly, the focus turns to Monday night in Cleveland where the Browns host the Ravens.  As with the Raiders, New England trails Baltimore by just one game and owns the tiebreaker with their Week 10 victory.  Full disclosure, I'm writing this before Baltimore's game against Dallas Tuesday evening.  I'm operating under the assumption they will win because Dallas sucks.

A Ravens loss to the Browns next Monday, combined with a Patriots victory over the Rams, would put the Patriots ahead of Baltimore in the standings.

If all of the aforementioned things happen, voila, the Patriots all of a sudden control their own playoff destiny. 

To recap, the Patriots will control their own playoff destiny if these four things happen this week:

  1. New England beats LA Rams on Thursday
  2. Miami loses to Kansas City on Sunday
  3. Las Vegas loses to Indianapolis on Sunday
  4. Baltimore loses to Cleveland on Monday
In all honesty, the Patriots winning is probably the result that is the most in doubt.  Miami, Vegas and Baltimore will all likely be underdogs this week.  If these four things happen, the Pats find themselves in a three-way tie with Vegas and Baltimore, owning the advantage by beating both of them, and just one game behind Miami, with a game in Miami the following week. 

All New England would need to do is win their final three games against Miami, Buffalo and the Jets, and they'd return to the playoffs.  Again, no small task, but not out of the realm of possibility. 

All of this becomes moot if the Pats fall to LA on Thursday night.  As I mentioned in the beginning, a loss this week doesn't eliminate the Pats, but their path to the playoffs becomes much harder, and very much out of their control.  

We haven't had this kind of late season playoff chase in decades as Pats fans.  Buckle up folks.

Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34



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Boston Sports Syndicate: How Week 14 Holds the Key to the Patriots Playoff Hopes
How Week 14 Holds the Key to the Patriots Playoff Hopes
Boston Sports Syndicate
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