Looking at the schedule at the beginning of the year, I never would have expected that the Patriots would end up only playing three games against playoff teams. It looked way harder in the beginning of the year. Even more strange -- the only one of the three they won was the 8-8 Broncos! Just goes to show how strange the NFL can turn out. It turns out the North had 3 of the top 5 teams in the AFC, and that's the way it goes some times. Interestingly, the Patriots played lots of teams that were competing for the playoffs but ended up a game short -- the Jets, Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, and Cowboys. I think at least three of those teams would have made the playoffs if they had won their games against the Patriots -- the Jets, Chargers and Raiders. I'm not sure about the Chiefs -- if everyone had ended up 8-8 in that division, I don't know what would have happened. The Cowboys would have just missed even if they beat the Patriots, because the Giants beat them twice.