Week 12 AFC playoff picture: Here come the Patriots

New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
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Eleven weeks of the 2021 NFL season are in the books and the playoff picture is starting to come into focus with Thanksgiving a few days away

The Titans remain on top of the conference, but a Week 11 loss to the Texans has dropped them closer to the competition and they could be off their perch entirely come Sunday night. They’ll face the Patriots, who have won five straight games to move to the top of the AFC East and position themselves as a possible top seed in the entire conference if they can keep that hot streak going.

With 12 AFC teams at .500 or above, there’s a lot of other things going on in the playoff chase and here’s how everyone stacks up heading into Week 12:

1. Titans (8-3) Sunday’s loss ended a six-game winning streak, but their sweep of the Colts keeps them comfortably ahead in the AFC South heading into that big matchup with the Patriots.

2. Ravens (7-3) The next three games on the schedule are all divisional games, so the Ravens will be hoping to have Lamar Jackson back at 100 percent to continue their push for the AFC North title.

3. Patriots (7-4) The Patriots are surging at a moment when the Bills are flailing, which could mean that their absence from the top of the AFC East was only a one-year change.

4. Chiefs (7-4) Two straight wins makes it feel like they’ve righted the ship and they’ll have a bye week to rest up for the stretch run.

5. Bengals (6-4) The Bengals snapped a two-game losing streak in Las Vegas and they can deal the Steelers a blow this week.

6. Chargers (6-4) Outlasting the Steelers on Sunday night was a good thing and rolling up 533 yards in the process gives hope that the Chargers have more big wins in their future.

7. Bills (6-4) Sunday’s loss to the Colts knocked them out of first place in the AFC East and was ugly enough to create doubt that they’ll stay in the playoff mix when all is said and done.

8. Steelers (5-4-1) They played better against the Chargers than they did in a Week 10 tie with the Lions, but a loss is still a loss and the Steelers can’t afford too many more of them.

9. Colts (6-5) Jonathan Taylor‘s huge day in Buffalo moved the Colts to 6-2 in their last eight games and they’ll try to continue the surge against Tampa this week.

10. Browns (6-5) Their win over the Lions felt like a loss, but no one will be complaining if they win ugly in Baltimore this week.

11. Raiders (5-5) Sunday’s loss was their third straight and it’s starting to feel a lot like the last two seasons for the Raiders.

12. Broncos (5-5) Denver has the Chargers and the Chiefs the next two weeks, so they could be out of realistic playoff hopes by Week 14.

13. Dolphins (4-7) Three straight wins is reason for some happiness in Miami, but they probably stacked up too many losses to overcome.

14. Texans (2-8) Sunday’s matchup with the Jets has major draft implications.

15. Jaguars (2-8) Urban Meyer said Trevor Lawrence played one of his best games in a blowout loss to the 49ers and player development is all that’s left for the Jags this year.

16. Jets (2-8) The continued struggles of the Seahawks, who traded their 2022 first-round pick for Jamal Adams, are a silver lining to another losing season.

36 responses to “Week 12 AFC playoff picture: Here come the Patriots

  1. buffalo built their defense to beat kc. unfortunately, the top teams in the afc all run the ball too well. when ne, indy, ten are 4 games on your schedule and you cant stop the run, you should worry about making the playoffs, before worrying about how to beat kc when you get there.

  2. Tremendous turnaround for Pats over the last month. Belichick should be coach of the year. Matthew Judson should be defensive player of the year. Mac Jones should be rookie of the year.

  3. Contrary to what many came to think, the scrambling quarterback style is over rated because very few of them are healthy after five years. BB proved what many of us already knew. Guys like Brady, Manning, Breese et al can last a lot longer.

  4. Huge Ravens fan here: If the Ravens are the second-best team in the AFC then that means the entire AFC is all over the place and not really all that good.

  5. The entire NFL is kinda bonkers this year but the AFC is really interesting. Wouldn’t have thought the Chiefs had a chance to make the playoffs less then a month ago. 4 straight wins for them and some completely mind boggling loses by the Bills Titans and Ravens and here we are. Every game counts.

  6. Belichick almost always (last year was an anomaly) has a deep roster that overcomes the injuries, elements and the psychological pressures of late season play.

    He’s mocked for letting high-priced stars walk but his strategic approach keeps winning.

    This Patriots team is relatively healthy, battle tested, and extremely supportive of each other. Ever since walking out on the field for the 2001 Super Bowl as a TEAM while the Greatest Show On Turf emphasized stars, Belichick has proved to anyone paying attention that there is strength in TEAM that is greater than the sum of individuals.

  7. Raiders (5-5) Sunday’s loss was their third straight and it’s starting to feel a lot like the last two seasons for the Raiders.
    ——————
    In other words, business as usual.

  8. The question is, how different would this picture be if the Ravens hadn’t been allowed to kick their game winning FG against the Lions after the clock had expired? Somebody is going to get screwed come playoff time because of that one massive no call from the refs. Vegas should have odds on who that team will be.

  9. The Patriots have played no one! Why is it so hard for people to see that? I guarantee you the next four games they falter but the entire team will be given a pass because that’s what keyboard warriors do when their narrative falls on its face. Meanwhile Ravens and Co. keep winning and remain atop the AFC food chain whether you like it or not! Cheers!

  10. The Patriots have played New Orleans Tampa Dallas Los Angeles Cleveland and have games left against Tennessee Indianapolis and Buffalo twice. Excuses and whining by AFC fans like the ravens moron is a sure sign the Dynasty is Rusing Again.

  11. The Patriots have played New Orleans Tampa Dallas Los Angeles Cleveland and have games left against Tennessee Indianapolis and Buffalo twice. Excuses and whining by AFC fans like the ravens moron is a sure sign the Dynasty is Rising Again.

  12. Patriots are surging and full of confidence they can beat anyone. Really physical on both sides of the ball. No one scares them at all. The sky is the limit for this team next 5 years or longer if BB does not retire.

    Mac Jones is Patriots QB of future. Many great young players and best coaching in NFL. Yes the future of the Dynasty is bright. It is even possible they win SB this year. Play the games and forget the hype and their odds are as good as anyone else in NFL.

    And of course the NFL is already scared of another Dynasty.

  13. The Dynasty is rising again. Let the excuse making and whining begin. The weak excuses are fuel for a team that intimidates physically.

    Long live the Dynasy

  14. Are patriots fans the Neapolitans of the NFL? I can’t wait to watch them fall apart down the stretch and then come out and say…”but next year”

  15. Pats Nation should feel confident, but also let’s see how they look coming out of the next four games.
    It is amazing they are leading the AFC East again and with a rookie QB.
    Also, you couldn’t ask for four better games coming up. Titans, Bills, and Colts all legit contenders for this year’s AFCCG.
    We’ll see how they come through the next four, but it does appear possible that Belichick could be the first NFL head coach to take a rookie QB to the SB.
    Wouldn’t that be something.

  16. thatravenguy says:
    November 23, 2021 at 9:19 am
    The Patriots have played no one! Why is it so hard for people to see that? I guarantee you the next four games they falter but the entire team will be given a pass because that’s what keyboard warriors do when their narrative falls on its face. Meanwhile Ravens and Co. keep winning and remain atop the AFC food chain whether you like it or not! Cheers!

    ————————-

    Thats been the mantra for a while now. It keeps being the next team that will be the test. Then they beat that team and guys like you start saying that wasn’t a good team and its the next one. Atlanta I agree was not a test, but you have been in this circle for weeks. Some of those teams had winning records until the Pats put a stop to them.

  17. Belichick knows what a championship team looks like. I would not overlook a team that is first in defense points allowed and sixth in scoring offense and team with best coaching in NFL.

    Patriots are surging and afraid of no team. Let the games begin

  18. It’s kind of a perfect storm for the Pats. No other team has distinguished itself this year as the best – there are about 6-7 teams all around the same level, and I’d put New England right in there.

    With everything else being relatively the same, BB’s coaching is a huge differentiator. He’s just head & shoulders above everyone.

    At this point in the season, I’d pick the Pats to at least get to the SB. I don’t think anyone can match BB’s experience in the playoffs in the AFC. The NFC might have a better team at the end, but it’s close. Could be #7 on the way for NE.

  19. Gosh, I have never seen a fan base so afraid of another team as these Ravens guys sitting here fretting over the Patriots and trying to convince their own selves of the things they don’t believe in their hearts.

  20. formerlyflaccodelic says:
    November 23, 2021 at 8:42 am
    Huge Ravens fan here: If the Ravens are the second-best team in the AFC then that means the entire AFC is all over the place and not really all that good.
    ================================================================
    thatravenguy says:
    November 23, 2021 at 9:19 am
    The Patriots have played no one! Why is it so hard for people to see that? I guarantee you the next four games they falter but the entire team will be given a pass because that’s what keyboard warriors do when their narrative falls on its face. Meanwhile Ravens and Co. keep winning and remain atop the AFC food chain whether you like it or not! Cheers!
    =================================================================
    Ravens fans. They cant both be right. LMFAO

  21. As a Pats fan I really am enjoying this year. I expected them to be much improved but had them at 10 wins at best if things broke their way.

    We have had an opportunity to watch the young guys develop and the new signings get acclimated. Heck, I’m even enjoying watching Harry block and make the occasional catch as if he was a fullback or a blocking tight end instead of a 1st round pick. As long as guys fill a positive role who cares when they were drafted. Running the football will do that to you.

    Besides, for every Harry who has underperformed there’s Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Bryant, Carl Davis, Andrews, Myers and others that Bill took off the street.

    The guy who so many said can’t draft gave us Mac Jones, Barmore, Stevenson, Duggar, and Onwenu in the last two. And what about covering a mistake in drafting by signing Folk?

    It’s been fun no matter how the yesr rnds.

  22. The thing is, for Pats fans its pretty much gravy from here. As far as what we could hope for as we finished last year as not just a depleted but really a genuinely bad team, where this is niw is beyond wildest dreams. We really just needed to see a solid team trending in the right direction that could be built on. To even be having these conversations about playoffs (we all know the meme) is freaking amazing. And to be watching other fan bases start to obsess on us again is fun too. But whatever, might as well enjoy big dreams on where it can go from here because no matter how little or how much more we see its all free gravy from this point either way.

  23. “The thing is, for Pats fans its pretty much gravy from here. ”
    _______________________________________

    Yeah, we get it. You guys will always be happy & satisfied, while the rest of us will be envious and obsessed.

    It’s a Patriots world, and we all just live in it.

  24. billsrthefuture says:
    November 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm
    “The thing is, for Pats fans its pretty much gravy from here. ”
    _______________________________________

    Yeah, we get it. You guys will always be happy & satisfied, while the rest of us will be envious and obsessed.

    It’s a Patriots world, and we all just live in it.

    —————————————-
    In the scenario I gave there is room for the Bills to win a Superbowl AND the Patriots being a massively improved team now on a good foundation to go forward and upward. We will certainly take everything that comes our way, and root for it. But if you still wind up with more this time around then power too ya.

  25. “In the scenario I gave there is room for the Bills to win a Superbowl AND the Patriots being a massively improved team now on a good foundation to go forward and upward. We will certainly take everything that comes our way, and root for it. But if you still wind up with more this time around then power too ya.”
    _______________________________

    Understood, and of course. I was being a little facetious, but definitely feel a little “here we go again” w/ all of this.

    The Bills had one “easy” year for the division. Now, it’s going to be a fight. Which is fun, and it’s cool to have rivalries in the division again (or at least meaningful games late in the season).

    I remember on draft day watching Jones, and hoping desperately that some team would grab Jones or trade up for him. I’m not even so sure that he’s the #2 or #3 QB from that draft yet – but he’s just perfect for that team & the way they’re constructed. And he’s BB’s kind of player.

  26. It’s SB or bust for the Bills. Next year they are in cap hell and will start losing players.

  27. Face it, not a Pats fan but the hate for them goes beyond their status as being the Yankees of football. But unlike the Yankees with their massive payrolls – the Pats have had a solid teacher who demands preparation, knowing every opponent’s weak spots and executing plays to perfection. Cheating scandals aside, we all hate consistent success from juggernaut teams because we wish we had their teachers on our teams. Just two years removed from Brady’s departure, Belichick has assembled a solid no-name defense – and an offense with no superstars that is winning. During the first 1/4 of the season people said the Pats hadn’t “played anybody.” I don’t think the Saints, Cowboys, Chargers and Buccaneers are bad teams. They play the sinking Bills twice, the surging Colts and they’ll host the Derrick Henry-less Titans on Thursday. I’m pretty sure the Pats will play those teams close, if not outright beating them. People now hate the Chiefs because of consistent success during the past five years – but yikes, the Patriots are good again, and their ahead of schedule.

  28. billsrthefuture, most fans don’t realize that despite Belichick’s record against the Bills be so lopsided, most of those games were close and hard fought.

    McDermott can coach. The Bills are talented. The real question is did forgoing a run oriented offense and defense leave them vulnerable. Belichick always goes contrarian and then forces teams to play on his terms. That 2001 offense had guys st TE and RB playing in the super bowl that couldn’t make a practice squad today. Bill loaded up on the D and dinked and dunked on offense but didn’t turn it over.

    The Jets fan has really lived in misery. Not since Super Bowl III have they they really been relevant and their ownership is horrible.

  29. The Patriots have climbed out of a hole, BUT, one loss at this point has dramatic effects. If they are reading the press clippings and getting high on their own fumes, they can go right back in that hole. They have losses on their record they probably should not have, so they cannot let up, or their season will be a disappointment. Maintaining the sense of urgency that a 2-4 record puts on you is the key to their playoff hopes.

  30. Did I really just witness a ravens fan come in here and say the Patriots haven’t played anyone and that the ravens keep on winning? Did we just forget the Dolphins beating the ravens two weeks ago??

  31. Ravens fans are utterly delusional. They look at their 7-3 record and pound their chests. They are, by far, the worst 7-3 team in the league that could easily be 4-6. And their schedule has been a joke to date. Lamar went 2-2 and played terribly in his last 4 games… against teams that were collectively under .500. They beat a Bears team that didn’t have their top 5 players including their QB. Way to go! But we’ll see how good they are as their final 7 games come against teams with an actual collective winning record and good defenses. I see 10-7 at best for them, and it’s possible they finish 9-7 or even 8-8.

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