Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports

What Week 15 meeting will mean for Patriots and Steelers

Ryan Hannable
December 11, 2017 - 10:06 am

Even though the Patriots haven't played their Week 14 game, it's worth looking ahead to next Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. After all, a lot will be at stake.

With the Steelers' win over the Ravens on Sunday Night Football they improved to 11-2 on the season to sit atop the AFC standings. The Patriots can tie them with a win Monday night in South Florida against the Dolphins.

This will set up one of the biggest regular-season games in the Bill Belichick era next Sunday in Pittsburgh, as the winner of the game will in all likelihood be the No. 1 seed in the AFC and have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. If New England wins Monday, the winner of next week's game would have to lose in both Week 16 and 17 and the loser would have to win out in order to get the No. 1 seed. 

New England closes the year with home games against the Bills and Jets, while the Steelers close the year at the Texans and at home against the Browns. So it's pretty clear, the winner of next Sunday's meeting will almost certainly be the No. 1 seed.

Even if the Patriots were to lose Monday, the winner of next week's game would still likely determine the AFC's No. 1 seed as the Patriots would hold the tiebreaker if they won. If New England loses Monday and the Steelers win next week, they would clinch the No. 1 seed as they would be two games up with two games left and hold the tiebreaker.

So while the Patriots are focused on their ninth straight AFC East with a win Monday, there's nothing wrong with looking ahead. After all, it's not too often a regular-game means as much as next Sunday will in Pittsburgh.

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