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Patriots get some help in standings on Sunday, but Jacksonville collapse hurt

Ryan Hannable
November 18, 2018 - 7:58 pm

The Patriots enjoyed their bye week this weekend, but that didn’t mean the games Sunday didn’t impact them and the AFC playoff picture.

While the current No. 1 seed in the Chiefs don’t play until Monday night against the Rams, the other top teams in the AFC were in action. 

Going into the week, the Steelers were ahead of the Patriots in the standings for a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed and that’s where things will remain. They were able to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Jaguars on the road, 20-16. 

Pittsburgh trailed 16-0 heading into the final quarter, but led by Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers were able to score 20 points, including a Roethlisberger 1-yard touchdown run with five seconds remaining to give them the win. 

The Steelers offense was dreadful until the fourth quarter, as Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and the Jaguars defense was having its way all game long. Give Pittsburgh credit, it never gave up and came away with a huge win on the road.

This hurts the Patriots as a Steelers loss would have moved the Patriots past Pittsburgh in the standings and earn a first-round bye as of now. The two teams meet in Pittsburgh during Week 15, which will go a long way in playoff seeding and could ultimately decide who gets a first-round bye and who needs to play on wild card weekend.

While the Jaguars didn’t do the Patriots any favors, the Broncos did.

Denver had one of its biggest wins in recent years — a 23-22 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles on a last-second field goal. The Broncos, who are now 4-6, battled all game and ultimately it paid off at the end. The loss now has the Chargers and Patriots tied with identical 7-3 records.

As it relates to the Patriots, this means Kansas City is in the driver’s seat for the AFC West title, which would mean it will likely be between the Patriots, Chiefs and Steelers for the conference’s No. 1 seed. Although, don't count out Houston who also has a 7-3 record and a very favorable schedule.

Kansas City has some tough games coming up, including Monday against the Rams and then a date with the Chargers in a few weeks, so it’s no guarantee it can keep its hot start going. Remember, the Patriots hold the tiebreaker, so if New England wins out and Kansas City loses twice, the Patriots would get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Things didn’t all go the Patriots’ way during their bye week, but things are starting to become more clear in the AFC.

If one thing should be taken away from this week, it’s any team can beat anybody at any given time. No game the rest of the way should be taken lightly, as the Patriots don’t want to have what happened to the Chargers happen to them and be the difference in playoff seeding.

Related: Sunday 7: Plenty of reasons to feel good about Patriots heading into final 6 games