Baltimore’s thrilling win over Cleveland pretty much eliminated the Patriots’ from playoff contention.
As if 2020 wasn’t upside down enough, the New England Patriots were mathematically eliminated from winning the AFC East this weekend after Buffalo improved to 10-3 on the season, meaning that their streak of 11 consecutive division titles will come to an end.
To make matters worse, the Patriots got next to zero help from the teams ahead of them in the playoff race this week, keeping them two games out of the seventh and final spot with just three games remaining.
In a game of the year candidate on Monday night, Baltimore took down Cleveland to establish a bigger cushion between themselves and the Patriots in the conference standings. The Ravens were on the cusp of losing on several occasions, but quarterback Lamar Jackson turned back the clock to 2019 and put the team on his back.
If Baltimore loses that game, the Patriots’ would still have a playoff pulse. However, assuming the current top six teams in the AFC — all of whom have no more than four losses — stay the course and qualify, you really can’t help but think the Ravens nab the seventh spot when all is said and done. The Patriots have a 2% chance to make it now.
After all, the current holders of the seventh spot (the Dolphins) have a significantly tougher remaining schedule compared to the Ravens, who has dates with the Jaguars, Giants and Bengals to close the year. Given that Jackson has found his MVP form again, we wouldn’t count on them slipping up against one of those bottom-feeders.
Miami, meanwhile still has to play the likes of the Patriots, Raiders AND Bills. With injuries piling up on both sides of the ball, it wouldn’t be surprising if they finish 1-2 (possibly 0-3) during that stretch. We know people have been sleeping on the Dolphins all season, but they’re probably a year ahead of schedule in terms of becoming a legitimate playoff contender.
We hate to do this to fans, but the Patriots’ playoff hopes took a drastic turn for the worse on Monday night. It’s been apparent for a while that they were going to need a lot of help from other teams to defy the odds and get in, and if Baltimore’s thrilling win over Cleveland was any indiction, that won’t happen.