AFC playoff picture: Patriots sitting pretty heading into bye week

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What a turnaround for the Patriots.

After starting the season 2-4, they have won seven straight games and are now 9-4 heading into their bye week. They are sitting pretty when it comes to the rest of the conference and the playoffs.

According to FiveThirtyEight, they now have a 76% chance of wining the AFC East, 44% chance of getting a first-round bye and even a 14% chance of winning the Super Bowl.

Here’s how things look for the rest of the conference following Week 13.

1. New England 9-4
Remaining games: Bye, at Colts, vs. Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins

2. Tennessee 8-4
Remaining games: vs. Jaguars, at Steelers, vs. 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Texans

3. Baltimore 8-4
Remaining games: at Browns, vs. Packers, at Bengals, vs. Rams, vs. Steelers

4. Kansas City 8-4
Remaining games: vs. Raiders, at Chargers, vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Broncos

5. L.A. Chargers 7-5
Remaining games: vs. Giants, vs. Chiefs, at Texans, vs. Broncos, at Raiders

6. Cincinnati 7-5
Remaining games: vs. 49ers, at Broncos, vs. Ravens, vs. Chiefs, at Browns

7. Buffalo 7-5
Remaining games: at Buccaneers, vs. Panthers, at Patriots, vs. Falcons, vs. Jets

IN THE HUNT

8. Pittsburgh 6-5-1
Remaining games: at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Chiefs, vs. Browns, at Ravens

9. Indianapolis 7-6
Remaining games: Bye, vs. Patriots, at Cardinals, vs. Raiders, at Jaguars

10. Las Vegas 6-6
Remaining games: at Chiefs, at Browns, vs. Broncos, at Colts, vs. Chargers

11. Cleveland 6-6
Remaining games: vs. Ravens, vs. Raiders, at Packers, at Steelers, vs. Bengals

12. Denver 6-6
Remaining games: vs. Lions, vs. Bengals, at Raiders, at Chargers, vs. Chiefs

ANALYSIS

No matter what happens this week, the Patriots will remain in first place following the bye since they have a 7-1 conference record and no other team has fewer than three losses. … When it comes to the rest of the season, the Titans may have the best schedule with games against the Jaguars, 49ers and Texans. The AFC North teams have the hardest schedules since they all have to play each other. … Buffalo is in a bad spot right now as it seems like things are falling apart losing three of their last five games and now having to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers on a short week. … Keep an eye on the Colts as the have played better of late and close the year with games against the Raiders an Jaguars.