Updated Playoff Odds, Matchup Projections for Patriots After Week 11

Mike DussaultSenior Analyst INovember 18, 2012

Updated Playoff Odds, Matchup Projections for Patriots After Week 11

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    With a win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday the New England Patriots improved to 7-3, but the victory came with a cost. Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm and will be out at least four weeks. Gronk's absence could play a role as the Pats enter the stretch run.

    Their margin for error is slim with the Denver Broncos breathing down their necks. Let's break down the latest on what seed the Pats might end up taking, and who they might be playing...

No. 1 AFC Seed: Houston Texans

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    With a home win over the Jaguars the Texans continue to hold on to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and remain two games ahead of the Patriots. But the Jaguars hanging 37 on the Texans defense gives a glimmer of hope for the Patriots should they have to go to Houston in the playoffs.

    The Patriots still will face the Texans so they'll have a chance to make up a game directly and take the tie-breaker, but the Texans are still going to have to lose at least one more if the Pats are to catch them.

    It's unlikely that Gronk will be back by this one unfortunately, so that could put a "the Pats didn't have Gronk" twist on the potential rematch.

    The Texans certainly didn't look unbeatable against Jacksonville; still it's hard to find one other loss outside of New England on their remaining schedule:

    Patriots' Chance of No. 1 Overall Seed: 10 percent

No. 2 AFC Seed: Baltimore Ravens

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    With a win over the Steelers the Ravens continue to hold on to the No. 2 seed in the AFC and maintain a two-game lead over the Patriots (including the head-to-head tie-breaker).

    The Ravens' schedule remains on the harder end of the spectrum, which makes it a toss-up for which of the current top two teams the Pats have the best chance at passing. Most likely the Pats will catch Houston before they catch Baltimore.

    Ravens' Remaining Schedule

    Patriots' Odds of No. 2 Seed: 20 percent

No. 3 AFC Seed: New England Patriots

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    The Patriots are currently the third seed in the AFC by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Broncos as the tie-breaker. The Broncos have an easier schedule than the Patriots and now the Patriots have to keep pace without Gronkowski.

    The Patriots should now have a two-game stretch on the road to close out the division title and assure the playoff berth. Ultimately the Patriots very well could have to host a wild-card game, but if they can clinch the division early enough they could start to rest guys a bit and try to get healthy.

    Patriots' Remaining Schedule

    Patriots' Odds of No. 3 Seed: 40 percent

No. 4 AFC Seed: Denver Broncos

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    The Broncos kept on the Patriots' tail with a hard-fought divisional win over the Chargers. They should roll over the Chiefs this coming weekend, but the Buccaneers might provide a bit more of a challenge than we might've thought.

    From the Patriots' perspective, Denver is two entirely different matchups depending on whether the game is in Denver or Foxboro. Winning in Denver has always been tough for the Pats.

    Denver is still in contention for a wild-card bye, and its Week 15 game with the Ravens is shaping up to be a great one.

    Broncos' Remaining Schedule

    Patriots' Odds of No. 4 Seed: 30 percent

Who Wants to Come to Foxboro?

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    Assuming the Patriots don't have an epic collapse they'll likely be jockeying for position to play one of these wild-card teams.

    As we saw last night, with or without Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers are a tough out, especially in the playoffs. In a perfect world the Ravens and Steelers continue to beat each other up, then have to face each other again in the wild-card round. 

    Steelers' Remaining Schedule

    • @ Browns
    • @ Ravens
    • Chargers
    • @ Cowboys
    • Bengals
    • Browns

    I don't think anyone would be worried about having to see the Indianapolis Colts again, but they'll be in the thick of it. Their two games with Houston will decide a lot and likely open the door for a team like...

    ..the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are the kind of team with the ability to sneak in because they play great defense and have an explosive offensive element in AJ Green.

Our AFC Playoff Picture Prediction

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    The Patriots have been unbeatable the last two years after Thanksgiving, but the Gronkowski injury is significant and their upcoming schedule has some difficult offenses and defenses. 

    Our updated projection:

    1. Texans (13-3)
    2. Broncos (12-4)
    3. Ravens (11-5)
    4. Patriots (11-5)
    5. Steelers (11-5)
    6. Colts (10-6)

    There's a fine line for the Patriots, and here losing two games instead of only one knocks them from No. 2 to No. 6.