The New England Patriots are not a good football team anymore. Gone are the days where fans in Foxborough could count on 10+ wins and an AFC East title. Ahead of the team's Thursday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots sit at 2-10, the worst record in the AFC. They haven't won a game since Oct. 22 and haven't scored double-digit points in three straight games.
If the season ended today, the Patriots would hold the second overall pick, their highest pick since they took Drew Bledsoe first overall in 1993. They are basement-dwellers of the NFL, and definitely not a playoff team...right?
The Patriots still have a path to the playoffs
There is still a slim chance that the Patriots can reach the playoffs this year. Obviously, it's not likely, but even at 2-10, with their best possible record an abysmal 7-10, the Patriots have a shot at the playoffs.
Here's what needs to happen.
The Patriots need to win out
Their next five games are as follows: @ PIT, v. KC, @ DEN, @ BUF, v. NYJ
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to lose out
Their next five games: v. NE, @ IND, v. CIN, @ SEA, @ BAL
The Houston Texans need to lose out
Their next five games: @ NYJ, @ TEN, v. CLE, v. TEN, @ IND
The Bengals need to beat the Steelers in Week 16 and lose the rest of their games
Their next five games: v. IND, v. MIN, @ PIT, @ KC, v. CLE
The Los Angeles Chargers need to win their next two games against the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, then lose to the Bills, Broncos, and Chiefs in the final three weeks
The Broncos to lose their next three to the Chargers, Lions, and Patriots, win their Week 17 matchup against the Chargers, then lose to the Raiders in Week 18
The Bills to lose to the Chiefs and Cowboys, beat the Chargers, then lose to the Patriots and Dolphins
What would the playoffs look like if all of this happened?
Here would be the AFC playoffs if all of the above happened:
*standings listed are not guaranteed
Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots
Of course, the teams at the top could shift around. The Ravens could lose to the 49ers while the Dolphins beat the Cowboys. Other things could happen that have nothing to do with the Patriots reaching the playoffs, but all that matters in this situation is that we see New England in that seven spot.
Is there a chance all this happens?
Don't make me laugh.
Even if every other team played their part, the Patriots, who have scored more than 20 points just once all year, would have to take down the Chiefs, Bills, and possibly a Jets team with Aaron Rodgers back under center.
The Patriots are not going to reach the playoffs, but it is astonishing to realize that despite how atrocious they've been, how bad they've looked, how horrible the offense has played, they are not mathematically out of the hunt yet despite only having two wins.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New England Patriots somehow still have a path to the NFL playoffs