The New England Patriots head into Week 17 with a number of scenarios that could come to fruition regarding their postseason seeding. In the AFC, just the No. 5 Indianapolis Colts and No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals are locked into their seeds. The Patriots could find themselves falling into any of those other spots from No. 1 and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, all the way down to the No. 4 seed and hosting the Colts on Wild Card Weekend.
In order for the Patriots to earn one of the those top two seeds and a bye week in the playoffs, they will need some help from their AFC comrades.
To earn the No. 1 seed, besides having to defeat the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots will need the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos to lose on Sunday. A win by one of these teams would mean the Patriots do no better than the No. 2 seed, which of course would still earn them a first-round bye week.
The Texans and the Colts are the first of these teams to square off on the day, meeting in Indianapolis at 1 pm. Andrew Luck and the Colts, of course, cannot do any better than their current No. 5 seed. However, receiver Reggie Wayne has come out and spoken how he feels about resting against the Texans, as quoted here by Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.
We're too young to rest, we probably need to put everybody out there and have them continue to play. I don't think we can afford (to rest). I can't speak for everybody, but I'm built to play.
Patriots fans have to hope that Wayne is right and head coach Chuck Pagano, who is returning to coach his first game after beating leukemia, chooses to go the route Wayne believes they should. The reason being, the playoff-caliber Colts would seem to have a much better chance of defeating the falling Houston Texans than would the lowly Kansas City Chiefs of knocking off the Broncos.
The Broncos may be a division rival of the Chiefs, who kept it close the first time; and yes, the Chiefs handed the undefeated Green Bay Packers their first loss last December. Despite these bits of evidence that the Chiefs, coached by former New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, could perhaps give the high-powered Broncos a game, Peyton Manning is likely to have his way with the Chiefs Sunday.
The most realistic option still seems to be that the Texans, Broncos and Patriots will all win on Sunday, keeping them seeded at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
The Patriots may have stormed back against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, but the fact that they were unable to finish them off seems to have doomed their chances at a bye week.