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Patriots playoff picture: New England’s updated AFC wild-card chances to win No. 7 seed

The Patriots needed to beat the Dolphins in Week 17 to keep their playoff hopes alive. Mission accomplished.

New England earned a tightly contested 23-21 victory over Miami thanks to a strong effort from the team’s defense. Kyle Dugger had a key pick-six against Teddy Bridgewater that gave the Patriots a 16-14 second-half lead.

They would not relinquish it.

Now, the Patriots are firmly in the playoff picture after a couple of disappointing, last-minute losses against the Raiders and the Bengals. They’re far from guaranteed to make the postseason, but they are in control of their own destiny as the 2022 NFL season comes to a close.

What are the Patriots’ playoff chances with one week remaining in the season? Here’s how things stack up for New England as Week 17 comes to a close.

MORE: Breaking down the Dolphins’ playoff chances

Patriots playoff picture

The Patriots are currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC after their win over the Dolphins. They nullified the Dolphins’ head-to-head tiebreaker and by virtue of their better divisional record they are ahead of Miami in the standings.

The Jets (7-8) and Steelers (7-8) could change that with their games on Sunday afternoon and evening. With wins, they would tie the Patriots and Dolphins and make more complex tiebreaker scenarios.

So, while the Patriots are currently in the playoff field, things could change quickly for them.

What playoff tiebreakers are in the Patriots’ favor?

The Patriots are well-positioned in the playoff race because they own several tiebreakers over the other teams competing for AFC wild-card spots. They own head-to-head tiebreakers over both the Jets and Steelers and currently have the best divisional record among the group at 3-2.

As such, New England should remain the No. 7 seed in the AFC as Week 17 closes. The only question would then be whether the Patriots could remain there in Week 18.

MORE: Breaking down the Lions’ playoff chances

Patriots’ remaining schedule

The Patriots play one of their toughest games of the season in Week 18. They will be traveling to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a win-or-go-home game.

The Bills certainly won’t take the Patriots lightly considering that they are divisional rivals and that Buffalo is fighting to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Josh Allen and Sean McDermott will relish a chance to knock Mac Jones and Bill Belichick out of the postseason playoff picture.

Can the Patriots still make the playoffs?

The Patriots are currently positioned to make a playoff run, but they will almost certainly need to beat the Bills in Week 18 to make it to the postseason. That won’t be easy, and FiveThirtyEight projects that the Patriots have a 29 percent chance to make the playoffs as a result.

If the Jets and Steelers lose in Week 17, the Patriots’ chances would balloon to 41 percent. But still, they are facing an uphill battle as the season comes to a close.

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