I don’t need to know who they are playing nor if they are home or away.
This week, I’m against the New England Patriots.
They have avoided losses the last three weeks like an action hero dodges laser beams, and now own the second best record in the AFC with 10 wins and three losses. The Denver Broncos have the best record in the AFC with an 11-2 won/loss mark while the Kansas City Chiefs match the Patriots 10 wins but will not get the opening week playoff bye over the Patriots because that advantage is reserved for division winners. The Patriots will win the AFC East the Chiefs are headed to second place in the AFC West.
In other words, the Patriots are about as well off in their division and conference race that a team short on players due to injuries to key personnel could be. But, this perch in the AFC is now threatened because of another key injury, this time ending the season of standout tight end Rob Gronkowski. He was missing from action earlier this season when the Patriots lost a key AFC battle in Cincinnati. In that game, Tom Brady’s quest to catch Drew Brees for consecutive games with a touchdown toss was snapped two games short of the record 54, and the Bengals came away with a 13-6 win.
Today, Cincinnati is one game behind the Patriots in the race for a postseason opening week bye. But the lead is precarious at best. If Cincinnati wins just one more game than New England over the final three weeks of the season, the Bengals will get the opening week bye by virtue of the tiebreaker based on their head-to-head meeting and the Patriots will host a Wild Card Game.