The Patriots were unable to clinch a postseason berth in Week 15, but hope to do so this Sunday.
As it turns out, they may already be in the postseason by the time their Week 16 matchup with the Ravens kicks off at 4:25 p.m. EST, as laid out in the scenarios below.
The Patriots can clinch a playoff berth with a Bengals loss or tie against the Vikings (1 p.m. EST)
The Patriots can clinch the AFC East with a win or tie against the Ravens OR a Dolphins loss or tie against the Bills (1 p.m. EST)
The Patriots can clinch a top two seed in the AFC (which would mean a first-round bye in the playoffs) with a win against the Ravens plus a Bengals loss or tie to the Vikings plus a Colts loss or tie to the Chiefs OR a tie with the Ravens plus a Bengals loss plus a Colts loss
The Patriots hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos if the two finish with the same record, however the Bengals hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots if they finish with identical marks.
Below are the current AFC playoff standings:
1. x-Broncos 11-3
2. Patriots 10-4
3. Bengals 9-5
4. z-Colts 9-5
Wild card leaders
5. x-Chiefs 11-3
6. Ravens 8-6
In the hunt
7. Miami 8-6
8. San Diego 7-7
9. Pittsburgh 6-8
Notes: x = clinched playoff berth, z = clinched division title