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Patriots' playoff chances get boost after Jaguars beat Titans to win AFC South

Patriots 1st Down: Where Pats stand at Week 18
Patriots 1st Down: Where Pats stand at Week 18 03:38

FOXBORO – The Patriots face a stiff task on Sunday as they hope to clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Buffalo Bills. But another possible path to the postseason for New England opened up Saturday in Florida. 

Sunday will surely be an emotional day in Orchard Park as the Bills take the field for the first time since safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and had to receive CPR during Monday Night Football. The game was postponed, and later canceled. Hamlin continues to make progress in a Cincinnati hospital and spoke to teammates via FaceTime on Thursday.

On the field, Sunday will be a deciding day for the NFL playoff picture. With a win over Buffalo, New England will earn a playoff spot. A loss means the Patriots will need help to extend their season, and that assistance started Saturday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars narrowly defeated the Tennessee Titans to clinch the AFC South title. With the Titans loss, they are eliminated from playoff contention. On the other hand, the result was great news for New England.

Going into the weekend, the Patriots needed help from three teams to keep a possible scenario alive where they can lose to the Bills but still sneak into the playoffs with an 8-9 record.

The first criteria was a Jaguars win, because Jacksonville will no longer be able to clip New England for the final wild card spot. If the Jaguars had lost, the Patriots' only option would have been to beat Buffalo on Sunday.

Instead, if the Jets beat the Dolphins and the Browns beat the Steelers, New England is postseason bound for a second straight season no matter what happens against Buffalo.

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