Monday night’s battle between the Texans and Bengals held a little bit of significance for the Patriots, with Houston’s win over Cincinnati already having potential playoff implications with seven games to go heading into the final month and a half. The Bengals loss left both the Patriots and Carolina as the two remaining undefeated teams at 9-0.
But there’s a little more significance than just being only one of two teams remaining unbeaten. The loss by Cincinnati now puts the Bengals a game behind the undefeated Patriots, moving New England into the driver’s seat in the AFC for the number one seed in the postseason. That would mean that any team New England would face would have to come into Gillette Stadium and would also ensure a first round bye, leaving the Patriots just two wins away at that point from another trip back to the Super Bowl.
This is all a bit premature given the fact we’re barely halfway through November, but it just goes to show how important each one of these games are going to be over this final stretch as the top teams in the conference begin jockeying for playoff positioning. For New England, all they need to do is to continue to win to guarantee they’ll earn the top seed.
As far as finishing the year unbeaten, the biggest thing that will affect their approach toward that goal will likely come down to where they are this time next month in comparison to the rest of the teams in the conference. If they are still unbeaten but lock-up the top seed sooner rather than later, the only way they’ll likely end up undefeated will be with Jimmy Garoppolo firing passes to players not named Rob Gronkowski, while the defense plays with players that likely won’t include Malcolm Butler and whoever else Bill Belichick chooses to protect heading into the postseason.
Could it happen? Anything is possible. But for now the Patriots at least control their own destiny, which is the first step in trying to trying to put themselves in position for another postseason run.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary