By now everyone knows where the Patriots stand going into Sunday’s regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins. Right now, they would be the No. 3 seed and host the No. 6 seed Cincinnati Bengals on Wild Card Weekend. This can all change following Sunday’s action.

A win combined with a Houston or Denver loss would move the Patriots up to the No. 2 seed and give them a first-round bye. A win combined with losses by both Houston and Denver would give New England the No. 1 seed and the road to the Super Bowl would run through Gillette.

This week the big question surrounding the team and the game is should the team rest its players, or go all out for the win? The good thing the Patriots have going for them is they are playing at 4:25 p.m. and the result of the Texans-Colts game will already be known before kickoff. If the Texans win, the Patriots will likely be the No. 3 seed no matter what happens, as the Broncos host the dreadful Kansas City Chiefs and will likely roll to their 11th straight win. But, if the Texans lose, Bill Belichick will know with a win the team clinches a first-round bye and will obviously go all out and play for the win.

While getting a first-round bye is partly out of the Patriots control, the statistics show just how important getting a bye is in regards to a teams’ Super Bowl chances:

– The Patriots have had first-round byes all five times they have made it to the Super Bowl since the 2001 season.

– 15 out of the 22 teams to make Super Bowl since the 2001 season had first-round byes.

– 9 of the last 11 AFC representatives in the Super Bowl have had byes.

– 6 of the last 11 Super Bowl Champions had first-round byes.

The Patriots Super Bowl chances will take a serious hit if they don’t get a first-round bye. It is no secret the team is banged up on both sides of the ball. It was clear the back-to-back Houston and San Francisco games took a toll on the team and their health. Those are the types of games the team will be faced with in the playoffs — add in the travel aspect makes it even worse. The Patriots desperately need a first-round bye to get a week off to give their players an extra week of rest and secondly to get an extra home game making their first road game the AFC Championship and factor in the possibility of an upset would allow them to host the game.

So, should the Patriots be playing for a first-round bye this week? The answer is a 100 percent yes.

For Patriots coverage 24/7 follow Ryan on Twitter @hannable84.

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