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The Patriots could be officially eliminated from the playoffs by the end of Week 13

Hurley: Mac Jones continues to hurt the Patriots and is getting worse -- not better
Hurley: Mac Jones continues to hurt the Patriots and is getting worse -- not better 03:00

FOXBORO -- We've known for a while that the 2023 New England Patriots would not be making the playoffs. Some felt that way before the season even kicked off, and after two straight blowout losses in Weeks 4 and 5, most fans came to grips with that reality.

That reality can become official this weekend. With New England sitting at 2-9 heading into a Week 13 tilt with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Patriots could officially be eliminated from the playoffs by the end of the first weekend of December. 

A lot needs to happen for that to come to fruition, as highlighted by Joe Ferreira on X. But it starts with the Patriots dropping their home game to the 4-7 Chargers, which is entirely plausible. The Chargers are 6-point road favorites heading into the matchup and average 24.5 points per game, while the Patriots struggle to reach double digits on most weekends.

Here's everything else that needs to happen for the Pats to be eliminated after this week:

  1. NE loss + PIT win/tie + IND win/tie + CLE win/tie
  2. NE loss + PIT win/tie + IND win/tie + CIN win + HOU win
  3. NE loss + PIT win/tie + IND win + CIN tie + HOU win
  4. NE loss + PIT win/tie + IND win + HOU-DEN tie
  5. NE loss + PIT win/tie + IND tie + CIN win/tie + HOU-DEN tie    

The Steelers host the Arizona Cardinals, the Colts host the Titans, and the Broncos visit the Texans -- all of which kick off at 1 p.m. The Browns are on the road against the L.A. Rams, which will kick off at 4:25 p.m. The Bengals, however, don't play the Jaguars until Monday night, so if it comes down to that result, the Pats may not be eliminated until late Monday evening.

There's also a chance the Patriots stave off elimination for another week, when the scenarios will likely become much less complex. But it will happen eventually.

If it does happen this weekend, it would be the earliest the Patriots have been eliminated from postseason contention since 1993 when they also got the boot in Week 13 (but in a 16-game season). More recently, the Pats were eliminated with three weeks to play during the 2020 COVID season. 

While none of this has made for a very entertaining season, it does have New England in a good spot to land one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. But that doesn't fulfill Robert Kraft's desire to return to the postseason and win a playoff game, and will likely usher in massive changes to the New England franchise. 

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