December 3, 2016

No One Circles The Wagons Like…

logoWe interrupt your normally scheduled Line ‘Em Up preview of the somewhat resurgent Oakland Raiders to bring you this special presentation of the New England Patriots Playoff Scenario for Week #15.

Two weeks ago, the national pundits (isn’t it interesting that the word pun is included in these so-called knowledgeable authorities’ titles) were ready to crown the Jets as the heir apparent to the AFC Champs (even ahead of the one-loss Titans).  Then, the titanic defensive powerhouse Denver Broncos and the offensive juggernaut San Francisco 49ers came along and destroyed that misconception.  Broadway Brett threw less than 400 yds total with no TDs and two picks.  It’s was nice to see that the Hayseed Dixie finally made his appearance in Gotham.  The Jets are so mired in bad vibes that WR Laveranues Coles is coming off like TO’s little bro.

Two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins lost to the Pats and were just happy to not be the Detroit Lions.  Plus, they’re responsible for spurring on the latest wrinkle in the NFL a.k.a. the Wildcat offense.   Now, after beating downtrodden teams like St. Louis and Buffalo, the Fish received their Christmas present early – otherwise known as hope.  And hope is a dangerous thing in inexperienced hands like Miami.

And of course, I’m sure that everyone is well aware of the highs (comeback against the hapless Seahawks, Cassel’s bounce back from Pittsburgh) and lows (Pittsburgh game, more injured defensive starters, death of Cassel’s father) in the past two weeks for the New England Patriots.  Their 1-1 record seemed to reflect these up and down emotions.

What is left is a three game race to the end of the season for the AFC East title and quite possibly the only available playoff spot for these three teams. In a NFL season full of questions both on and off the field, the one that matters most to Patriots fans is: 

How the hell are they gonna make the playoffs?

As you’ve read from Scott’s solid analysis in previous weeks here at Patriots Daily, New England no longer controls their own fate and will need more than a little help from its AFC opponents to even find themselves in the conversation of an AFC East title as well as the one word Jim Mora, Sr. probably still hears in his sleep (or at least on those Coors Light commercials). Since the Jets and Miami play each other at the end of the season, there is no way for all three teams to win out the remaining three games.

So, to get everyone a proper dose of reality, here is a proper breakdown of just the AFC East battle for the regular season championship.

Scenario One:

The Pats win out and finish 11-5

The Jets win out and finish 11-5

The Dolphins go 2-1 (losing to the Jets) and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the NY Jets by virtue of their better AFC East record (Jets: 5-1; Pats: 4-2)

Scenario Two:

The Pats win out and finish 11-5

The Dolphins win out and finish 11-5

The Jets go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is Miami due to their better record within the AFC (Miami: 8-4; New England 7-5)

Scenario Three:

The Pats go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The Dolphins go 2-1 (losing to the Jets) and finish 10-6

The Jets win both games at home but lose to Seattle thus also going 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the New York Jets based on their better AFC East record of 5-1

Scenario Four:

The Pats go 2-1 (beating Oakland and Buffalo but losing to Arizona) thus finishing 10-6

The Dolphins go 2-1 (losing to the Jets) and finish 10-6

The Jets beat Miami and Seattle but lose to Buffalo thus also going 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the New England Patriots due to their better common opponents record (New England 8-3; New York 7-4) Miami would be eliminated by their 3-3 AFC East record

Scenario Five:

The Pats go 2-1 (beating Oakland and Arizona but losing to Buffalo) thus finishing 10-6

The Dolphins go 2-1 (losing to the Jets) and finish 10-6

The Jets beat Miami and Seattle but lose to Buffalo thus also going 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the New York Jets based their better AFC East record of 4-2 (both Miami and New England would be 3-3)

Scenario Six:

The Pats win out and finish 11-5

The Dolphins go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The Jets go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the New England Patriots based on their overall regular season record

Scenario Seven:

The Pats got 2-1 and finish 10-6

The Dolphins go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The Jets win out and finish 11-5

The AFC East Champion is the New York Jets based on their overall regular season record

Scenario Eight:

The Pats got 2-1 and finish 10-6

The Dolphins win out and finish 11-5

The Jets go 2-1 and finish 10-6

The AFC East Champion is the Miami Dolphins based on their overall regular season record

Out of seven possible AFC East Championship scenarios, New England has two ways to win it., which makes this week basically the one that will determine if New England has a realistic chance or not. 

If New England loses either one of the AFC games (Oakland or Buffalo), they will be all but eliminated from winning the AFC East title (the Pats are one game behind both Miami and New York in conference play) and quite possibly out of any playoff consideration.  Also, with a Jet victory over the Bills this week, one of the two winnable AFC East title scenarios for the Pats will go by the wayside.

New England Patriots fans, it is time to embrace your inner Chris Berman and become a fan of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.  Because without those Bills playing like they did at the beginning of the year, you’ll probably won’t have the TV on CBS on Sundays afternoons after the bell rings in 2009.

 Britt Schramm’s ‘Line Em Up’ appears weekly on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at [email protected].

Comments

  1. ChrisWarner says:

    Britt – impressive research. Scenario Four (Pats lose to Cards, Miami loses to Jets, Jets lose to Bills) actually gives me some hope because it means that the Pats could still be in it despite a loss. Last year, they had to win out to go 16-0. This year, they have to win out to have a chance at the playoffs. And announcers don't seem to be openly rooting against them as much now. Nice work!

  2. Chris, thanks for the good words. Scenario 4 does give the Pats a slim margin for error but they still need the Bills to come through on the road. I'm not saying that it can't be done but the way the Pats are comprised (defense especially), it's hard to really believe that New England can win both AFC games on the road while the Jets take one on the chin to the playing-out-the-string Bills. One thing is for sure – if the Jets do somehow not make the playoffs, Mangini will be looking for an coordinator's job the day after the season ends.

  3. I look at the 3 outcomes like this

    1 – Pats make playoffs – Great
    2 – Jets make playoffs – Bad
    3 – Miami makes playoffs – GOOD

    I never thought I would be happy to see Miami in the playoffs, but if they are in then the Jets are out. (of course I'd rather it be the Pats knocking them out)
    – Miami makes it because the Jets gave them Pennington, the player the Jets
    fans couldn't wait to get rid of sends them home
    – A down year for the Pats and the perennial 'serious contender' Jets can't get
    it done, again
    – Mangini gets fired
    – Next year we get Brady, Next year and the next and the next the Jets get to have
    will he or won't he retire games with Favre

    Missing the playoffs would suck, but we're already working in younger defensive players and we're getting back a ton of injured players in 2009. The Jets would have rolled the dice on 2008 and lost. As bad as the year was for us, it would have been worse for them.

  4. Sapere Aude says:

    You forgot to discuss the non-zero-probability outcome of a tie between the Jets and the Dolphins. That would be totally awesome. I would never stop laughing.

  5. I think everyone is overlooking the most likely scenario, the Ravens losing 2 of their last 3(they have Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Jacksonville), then 2 of the 3 AFC East teams get in. I predict the Pats win the East, with the Dolphins taking the Wild Card.

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