The Ravens clinched the AFC's top seed with a win over the Browns, so that's out for the Patriots.
All that's left now for New England is locking up the bye, which the Patriots will do with a win against the Dolphins, or a Chiefs loss tonight to the Bears (or in their finale vs. the Chargers).
But the Patriots got some good news when it came to potential divisional matchups and, possibly, regaining home field for the AFC Championship.
With the Steelers' loss to the Jets in a truly horrendous game — can we stop the Mike Tomlin coach of the year talk now? Ok, thanks — the Titans now control their own destiny as far as locking up the AFC's final playoff spot.
a) I'm happy about that because the Titans deserved it more than the Steelers or any other awful team. The Titans are a viable playoff team and I'm glad they're in.
b) This is a bad draw for the Chiefs and, possibly, the Ravens.
Right now, the likely AFC seedings are:
2. New England
3. Kansas City
Tennessee at Kansas City
Buffalo at Houston
The Titans are the team no one wants to face right now. With Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, they won six of seven before losing to the Texans by three and the Saints by 10 (it was way closer than that and Tennessee got jobbed by Jerome Boger not calling a headshot on a late fumble). Plus, they didn't have RB Derrick Henry, WR Adam Humphries and CB Adoree Jackson in most of the past two games (inactive on Sunday).
The Titans just beat the Chiefs 35-32 in Week 10, and that was with Patrick Mahomes throwing for almost 450 yards.
If you're the Chiefs, you would have preferred the Steelers. That would have been a layup. And you'd rather face Josh Allen and the Bills than Mike Vrabel's squad.
This is the worst-case scenario for the Chiefs, although they can take solace in knowing they fell in Nashville. Also, the Titans' injury situation might get worse having to play hard in the final game.
Here's where it gets interesting.
If the Titans knock off the Chiefs, that means they go to Baltimore and the Texans/Bills winner comes to Foxborough instead of the Chiefs.
So that would be huge for the Patriots, never mind the fact that the Titans would have a legit chance to upset the Ravens — probably more so than the Texans or Bills.
So now, it appears, Patriots fans can go back to being huge Mike Vrabel cheerleaders ... until they come here for the AFC Championship Game.
In other news, the Patriots' 2020 home and road slate is settled:
Home — Ravens, Cardinals, 49ers, Broncos, Raiders, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
Away — Texans, Rams, Seahawks, Chargers, Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, Jets.
That's a brutal road slate with three division winners and a Rams team that will be embarrassed after missing the playoffs following their Super Bowl loss.
Home isn't much better with two possible top conference seeds (Ravens, 49ers) and a Raiders team that will be contending for a playoff spot, if not the AFC West title with another offseason for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock.