The biggest beneficiary of the Patriots’ loss to the Dolphins on Monday night may turn out to be the Jaguars.
It’s long been assumed that the Steelers and Patriots would own the two AFC first-round byes. The two teams meet on Sunday, with the winner the favorite to earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
But now that the Patriots have fallen to 10-3, they’re just a game ahead of the 9-4 Jaguars. If the Patriots lose to the Steelers they can finish no better than 12-4. If the Jaguars win out, they will also be 12-4. And the Jaguars would win the tiebreaker based on a better conference record.
The Jaguars also own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers, so they’re not out of the race for home-field advantage just yet.
Bottom line: The AFC is not the two-team race some have made it out to be. The Jacksonville Jaguars — yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars — are Super Bowl contenders.