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The Mass Media

Where the Patriots stand in the playoffs

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Bianca Oppedisano
Caricature of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

What we saw out of the New England Patriots in week seven was a vintage Patriots victory. The Patriots made practically no mistakes, while also embarrassing the New York Jets by a score of 54–13. This game marked Mac Jones’ first 300-yard passing game and brought the Patriots to 3–4 on the season.
Three out of four of the Patriots’ losses this season have been one score games, so they have been in close games with some great teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. Although it is discouraging to see the Patriots lose these close games, it is a positive sign knowing they can hang with the best in the league. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how likely it is that the Patriots can pull out a playoff spot this season.
As it stands, the Patriots are currently on the outside looking in as the ninth seeded team in the American Football Conference, but could be tied for a wild card spot if they win this weekend.
The Pats have far from the easiest schedule going forward. However, they have shown they can compete with just about anyone. This week will be a good test for the Pats as they will be going up against the 4–2 Los Angeles Chargers. A season ago, the Cam Newton-led Patriots dominated the Chargers by a score of 45–0. Personally, I like this matchup for the Patriots just from a coaching standpoint, let alone the fact that the Patriots are better than they were a year ago.
The Patriots cannot afford to drop more than a game before they play the Tennessee Titans in late November, as their schedule gets extremely difficult following that game. The Patriots will have to play two of the best teams in the AFC, the Titans and the Buffalo Bills, spanning from week 12 to week 16. If the Patriots don’t own a playoff spot going into those games, then they could be in trouble; it is hard to believe that they will win all of those games.
Leading up to week 12, the Pats will be playing the Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons. The toughest matchup I see here is the Chargers, and I would give the edge to the Patriots in that game. The Browns could be a tough matchup, but they haven’t been too healthy on the offensive end between Baker Mayfield and their top two wide receivers. Depending on their health, that could be a game in which I favor the Patriots as well.
If the Patriots can make it to week 12 with a record of 7–4, I would give them a solid 80 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they can win just half of the games between week 12 and week 16, I believe they can finish the season with a record of 11–6. In my opinion, that should absolutely get the Pats a wild card spot. Making it to the playoffs this season would be massive for the future of the organization as it would likely attract some free agents to join an up-and-coming team that is on the mend toward being a great team.

About the Contributors
Jonathan Hopkins, Sports Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator