GLENDALE, Ariz. — For at least the next six days, the Patriots are a playoff team.
Monday night’s win at Arizona pushed the Pats back into the AFC playoff picture as the third and final Wild Card team. The Patriots vaulted the Chargers and Jets, who are also 7-6, but lose head-to-head tiebreakers to Bill Belichick and Co. If the postseason started this week, the seventh-seeded Pats would travel to play No. 2 Kansas City in the Wild Card round.
After Monday’s win, the Pats can clinch a playoff berth by winning out, but they aren’t taking any time to relish their position.
“One game at a time. It’s a one-game season. There’s going to be a lot of change over these four weeks for everybody. That’s just how it goes,” said Pats center and captain David Andrews. “You start looking at that stuff, you start focusing on that and you’re gonna let something slip away. So, it’s a one-game season, and that’s how you have to look at it.”
Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon agreed.
“Every week, 1-and-0. Every week,” Judon said. “And that’s what we’ve gotta focus on, and that’s what we’ve gotta harp on. We’ve gotta play consistent football on the defensive end. We’ve gotta play consistent.”
All AFC teams have four games remaining, starting this Saturday with the Colts-Vikings, Ravens-Browns and Dolphins-Bills showdowns. For the Patriots, their remaining schedule consists of Sunday’s game at Las Vegas, home games versus the Bengals and Dolphins and a trip to Buffalo for their regular-season finale either Jan. 7 or 8. According to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL playoff projections, the Pats have a 39% chance of making the playoffs.
As for the importance of Monday’s win to their postseason plans, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux gave that a different number.
“One-hundred percent. Needed this one,” Godchaux said. “We got back in at No. 7, but we control our own destiny, and we’ve been controlling our own destiny. We’ve just gotta focus on us.”