FOXBORO -- Despite being shut out at home by the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday, the Patriots were not officially eliminated from playoff contention. But that will very likely happen in Week 14.
We've known that the Patriots wouldn't be making the playoffs for a while now. But they needed to lose and have a bunch of other results around the league go a certain way to be eliminated last week. This week, they just need to lose to (or tie with) the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Either of those results are certainly possible. The Steelers are just as offensively inept as the Patriots and will also be starting their backup quarterback on Thursday night. But the Patriots haven't been able to score touchdowns for the last month, and will turn to backup Bailey Zappe again to lead the offense in Pittsburgh.
And while there is pretty much zero chance of New England making the postseason anyways, a loss or a tie to the Steelers would make it official. Even if the Patriots win, there are a few other ways they would become the first AFC team to be eliminated:
- A Houston Texans win or tie against the New York Jets
- A Cincinnati Bengals win or tie against the Indianapolis Colts
- A Las Vegas Raiders win over the Minnesota Vikings AND a Buffalo Bills win or tie over the Kansas City Chiefs
- A Las Vegas Raiders tie over the Minnesota Vikings AND a Buffalo Bills win over the Kansas City Chiefs
An early ticket to the offseason isn't something New Englanders have had to experience for the last 23 years, but with the team sitting at 2-10, it's inevitable at this point. At least that dreadful record has the Patriots.
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