Let's try to talk ourselves into thinking the Patriots might not get a first-round bye


I'm not worried about the Patriots. Not one drop. They’re so much better than everybody else. Holy cow. 

But the Patriots just lost and I'm a native New Englander so I can't act like there isn't a group of people who wants to worry after Monday’s loss. So fine; let’s worry a little bit. Just know we’re all being stupid. 

In short, here’s what we’ve got. 

WHAT WE’RE WORRYING ABOUT: The Pats missing out on a first-round bye. 

WHY WE’RE WORRYING ABOUT IT: Because we’re idiots. 


YOU SAID WHAT: That this worry about the Patriots involves the Jaguars. 


I actually like the Jaguars, so this isn’t a knock on them. Rather, it’s a knock on the idea that the Patriots won’t handle their business. 

At any rate, Monday’s loss to the Dolphins does present the possibility that the Pats would have to play during Wild Card weekend like the peasants. It’s something they don’t do often — since Bill Belichick took over as head coach, the Patriots have played in four more Super Bowls (seven) than they have played Wild Card round games (three). 

Right now, the Patriots remain the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They sit at 10-3, a game behind the Steelers team they’ll face Sunday in Pittsburgh. They’ll win that game, but let’s say they don’t. 

The Jaguars, fresh off a big win over the Seahawks, are 9-4. If they win out with a manageable schedule (Texans, at 49ers and an interesting finale against what might be a desperate Titans team in Tennessee), they would not only sew up the AFC South, but also potentially challenge the Patriots for the No. 2 seed in the conference. But again, they won’t. 

Should New England lose to the Steelers, they might be tied with the Jaguars in record with two games to go apiece. The Pats will play the Bills and Jets at home to finish the season, so it’s conceivable that both the Patriots and Jaguars finish 12-4. 

In such a scenario, head to head would be the first tiebreaker to determine who gets the No. 2 seed. That wouldn’t apply since the Pats and Jaguars haven’t and will not meet this regular season, so it would go to record in conference games. The Pats would be 9-3, while the Jaguars would be 10-2. Jacksonville would get the tiebreaker and the No. 2 seed. 

But again, that’s not going to happen. The Patriots will beat the Steelers Sunday, which will put the No. 1 seed back in play for the Pats. Both teams will be 11-3 overall and 8-2 against the AFC. With beatable opponents the rest of the way (the Bills and Jets for the Pats; the Texans and Browns for the Steelers), there’s a good shot both teams would finish 13-3 overall and 10-2 against the AFC. 

But hey, that AFC record wouldn’t matter! The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, remember? So, yeah, you have reason to worry about the Pats being the No. 3 seed. It’s just more likely that the Pats end up the No. 1. 

BUT, if you really want to worry about the Jaguars, feast your eyes on this heap of garbage that Handsome Phil Perry passed along: If all three teams finish 11-4, which can happen, the Jaguars could get the No. 1 seed given their head-to-head with the Steelers and the aforementioned conference advantage over the Pats. Look out for the Jaguars! 


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