Patriots can clinch No. 2 seed by beating Jets

The New England Patriots are AFC East Division champions again. Their next order of business is securing a first-round bye in the postseason.New England (10-5) attempts to clinch a bye in the playoffs for an NFL-record ninth straight season Sunday afternoon when it hosts the New York Jets (4-11).”We’re just going to do the best we can to go out and play as well as we can,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “That’s all we can do. So, whatever happens after that, happens. Can’t control it. We can control how we play this week and do the best we can.”The Patriots clinched their 10th straight AFC East title with last Sunday’s 24-12 home win over Buffalo. While the Patriots beat the Bills, the Houston Texans lost at Philadelphia, enhancing New England’s chances of getting the bye for the 13th time since 2001.”We still have one hugely important game left,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “We have to finish strong.”The Patriots can clinch the top seed by beating the Jets for the 14th time in the last 16 meetings. They could even jump to No. 1 if Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers lose to Oakland and Denver, respectively.The Patriots just need to win to get the second seed, but a loss would require help. If New England falters, it would need losses by Houston and Cleveland along with a victory by Indianapolis over Tennessee.New England is trying to avoid playing on wild-card weekend for the first time since the 2009 season when it suffered a 33-14 loss to Baltimore. Since the Brady-Belichick era began in 2001, the Patriots have only been a wild card three times.New England’s five losses are its most since the 2009 season. Before beating Buffalo, New England endured close losses in Miami and Pittsburgh the previous two weeks.

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