NFL Playoff Picture: How loss to Vikings impacts Patriots in AFC race originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots easily could have won their Thanksgiving Day game against the Minnesota Vikings, but too many penalties and self-inflicted mistakes cost Bill Belichick's team in a 33-26 loss Thursday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The loss is a tough one for the Patriots, who, as a result, dropped from the No. 6 seed (second wild card) in the AFC standings to outside the playoff picture in eighth place with a 6-5 record. New England also sits in last place in the AFC East division. The Patriots could jump back into a playoff spot by the end of Sunday night, but they need the Cincinnati Bengals or New York Jets to lose.
The Patriots now have just a 47 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight's predictive model.
The Patriots' schedule doesn't get any easier over the final six weeks. In fact, it gets much tougher. New England will face four teams currently in a playoff spot over its last six games, including two matchups versus the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills.
Here a look at the remainder of the Patriots' regular-season schedule:
Week 13: vs. Buffalo Bills (Thursday)
Week 14: at Arizona Cardinals (Monday)
Week 15: at Las Vegas Raiders (Sunday night)
Week 16: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Saturday)
Week 17: vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 18: at Buffalo Bills
Here's a look at the updated AFC playoff picture through Week 12. This story will be updated as more games conclude.
In a Playoff Spot
Kansas City Chiefs, 8-2 (AFC West leader)
Buffalo Bills, 8-3 (AFC East leader)
Tennessee Titans, 7-3 (AFC South leader)
Baltimore Ravens, 7-3 (AFC North leader)
Miami Dolphins, 7-3 (First Wild Card)
Cincinnati Bengals, 6-4 (Second Wild Card)
New York Jets, 6-4 (Third Wild Card)
On the Bubble
8. New England Patriots, 6-5
9. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-5
10. Indianapolis Colts, 4-6-1