Patriots Week 17

Patriots Playoff picture heading into Week 18 matchup with Buffalo Bills

Home » NFL » New England Patriots » Patriots Playoff Scenarios 2023: Current Picture & Chances

For a team that has lost four of its last six games, the New England Patriots’ playoff scenarios in 2023 are far more favorable than one might think.

In fact, thanks to the collapse of a couple of their AFC rivals, the Patriots’ playoff chances are quite favorable. While this year’s New England team won’t be considered among the greatest NFL teams of all time like the Patriots of the past, earning an NFL Wild Card spot is not out of the question.

New England Patriots Playoff scenarios

But what are the Patriots’ playoff scenarios in 2023? Everything will come down to what happens in Week 18.

Let’s take a closer look at the Patriots’ playoff chances and what needs to happen for Bill Belichick and company to avoid missing the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.

Win and in

The Patriots are surely in an enviable position heading into Week 18 because they control their own destiny. Even with three other teams that share New England’s 8-8 record and are still alive for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.


The Dolphins, Steelers, and Jaguars are also 8-8 with the 7-9 Jets getting eliminated from playoff contention after losing last week. However, thanks to last week’s win over the Dolphins and a win over the Steelers earlier this season, New England would win a tiebreaker with either team.

That means if the Patriots win their Week 18 game, they will make the playoffs, even if the Dolphins and Steelers both win as well.

A little help

If the Patriots lose, there is still a chance they can make the playoffs. Naturally, it’s going to take some help.

If the Patriots lose, they’ll also need the Dolphins, who are hosting the Jets, to lose while also needing the Steelers, who are hosting the Browns, to lose. In a unique twist, the Patriots would also need the Jaguars to win their game Saturday night against the Titans to clinch the AFC South.

If the Jaguars lose that game, Tennessee would win the division, although Jacksonville would earn the final Wild Card spot if the Patriots, Dolphins, and Steelers all lose.


Of course, relying on outside help may not be helpful for the Patriots’ playoff scenarios in 2023. Even with the Dolphins losing five in a row and not having Tua Tagovailoa in Week 18, Miami has a toss-up game at home against the Jets, who have also lost five straight games and have scored just nine total points over their last two games amidst quarterback issues of their own.

At the same time, the Steelers are red-hot with five wins in their last six games. They are also hosting a 7-9 Cleveland team that they have dominated on their home turf over the last three decades.

Going to Buffalo

While it’s good news that the Patriots control their own destiny in Week 18, the fact that they have to travel to Buffalo to play the Bills makes their road tricky. For starters, the Bills need to win to keep their hopes of earning the top seed in the playoffs.

Also, the Patriots have lost five of their last six head-to-head games against the Bills, including a 24-10 home defeat a few weeks ago and a 47-17 loss in Buffalo in the Wild Card Round of last year’s playoffs. 

The other twist for this week’s game between the Pats and Bills is how the Bills will react following the tragedy involving Damar Hamlin. It’s an unprecedented situation for any team; it just so happens that the Patriots are the next team on Buffalo’s schedule.

In any event, both the Bills and Patriots will be motivated to win in Week 18, making New England’s path to the playoffs difficult and rather complicated, especially if they lose in Buffalo.

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