FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Playoffs? Playoffs?

We’re past the midway point in the NFL season and that means the playoff picture is starting to come into focus. Depending on who you ask, the Patriots still might have a shot at the postseason.

Two NFL prediction models say the odds aren’t exactly in their favor.

ESPN’s NFL Football Power Index 2022 gives the Patriots just a 19.9% chance at making the playoffs. This model projects the Patriots will finish with an 8-9 record. FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model is a bit more advanced and has the Patriots with a 39% chance to make the postseason.

The FiveThirtyEight project allows you to see a team’s odds based on their future wins or losses. According to this model, the upcoming game against the New York Jets could be the difference between a playoff berth or early exit. In the event the Patriots defeat the Jets on Sunday, their odds of making the playoffs skyrocket up to 53%. If they lose, however, those odds drop to 18%.

That means the upcoming matchup is make or break for this team. The hope is that Bill Belichick and his staff used their bye week wisely and head into this final stretch with an improved team.


“A big opportunity for us this week,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “Had an opportunity to look at some things we could improve on and get ready to go on Sunday. That’s where we’re at.”

When looking at the future schedule, it’s understanding why this matchup is so important. A win puts them at 6-4 and keeps them as a contender in the AFC East as well as the AFC playoff picture. A loss, however, drops them to 5-5 with the hardest part of their schedule on deck. After the Jets, the Patriots play the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings on four days’ notice and then take on the 6-3 Buffalo Bills.

“One game at a time. Just took the words out of my mouth,” Belichick said when asked about the Jets game coinciding with the Patriots’ playoff probability. “One game at a time. Just worried about the Jets. Add them up at the end.”

If the Patriots beat the Jets, they enter the final portion of their schedule with seven games left. They likely need four wins to cement a playoff spot. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, teams with a projected 10 or more wins have over a 73% chance to make the playoffs.

If the Patriots can beat the Jets this weekend, the next question is can they find four more wins on the schedule? With two matchups with the Bills left to go with games against the Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, it won’t be easy.

That’s probably why the odds aren’t in the Patriots’ favor.


MATTHEW SLATER has heard the chatter of confident Jets teams before.

This year’s edition is eager for a rematch against Slater and the Patriots. New York rookie Sauce Gardner said, “I can’t wait to go against them again,” while Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers told thought the Jets should have won the last meeting.

“Anybody who watched the film can’t sit here and say we shouldn’t have won that game, at the end of the day,” Franklin-Myers said. “And it’s on us. We take that and we know the team goes as we go as a defense. And we have to be better. Any game we lose, as a defense, we have to be better.”

Slater just smiled when asked about it. He knows the Patriots have won 13 straight in the series and also knows better than to be overconfident. He was asked if the Jets’ talk adds any motivation heading into Sunday’s 1 p.m. rematch at Gillette Stadium.

“Perhaps for some. But when you get to my age, every game is important. You don’t need to find extra motivation, there’s plenty of motivation out there. I know for some guys that certainly gives a little extra,” Slater said. “But if we were (the Jets), I’m sure we’d feel the same way. It’s very clear how both teams feel about each other. It’s very clear what both teams are hoping to do. … They want to make it right. We want to go out and do what we did the last time.”

The Patriots have dominated the series in recent years, including the 22-17 win on Oct. 30. Slater knows that run of success has come from playing confidently during the game not talking confidently before it, so he steered clear of any flammable language. The Jets are clearly better than they’ve been, while the Patriots aren’t as dominant as they were early in the streak.


Slater said this Jets team is more than talk.

“I have a lot of respect for them. I think they’re doing a great job. They play the game the right way. You have to respect that,” he said. “They’re coached well. They’re obviously much improved this year. … There’s a lot at stake here. Everybody’s playing for something, especially in our division. … Stakes are high. Emotions will be high. There’s a lot on the line.”

LEFT TACKLE Trent Brown stood to the side for initial warmups to start practice Wednesday, while his fellow starting offensive linemen hit the blocking sled. Isaiah Wynn drilled in his place at left tackle and bookended the offensive line with backup Yodny Cajuste. Brown later repped with the backups, but did so without a helmet.

It’s unclear if Brown is dealing with a new injury. The 6-foot-8, 380-pounder was present for Monday’s practice and is one of two Patriots to see every offensive snap this season along with right guard Mike Onwenu. Wynn was the team’s primary backup at left tackle during training camp, the last time practices were fully open to reporters.

Without Brown, the Patriots’ offensive tackle depth would be troublingly thin. Wynn has already been benched for multiple games this season at his new position of right tackle, where Yodny Cajuste started in the team’s last game against the Colts.

Veteran right tackle Marcus Cannon, Wynn’s original replacement, recently went on injured reserve with a concussion. He allowed five pressures in his last game, a 5-point win at the Jets on Oct. 30.


RUNNING BACK Ty Montgomery is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, according to a multiple reports.

Montgomery has not played since the team’s season-opening loss at Miami on Sept. 11. In that game, he caught three passes for 15 yards and a touchdown around two rushes for minus-2 yards. Montgomery was placed on injured reserve two days later.

The 29-year-old was expected to serve as the Pats’ third-down back this season, a role Rhamondre Stevenson has since taken over. Stevenson is currently in the middle of a breakout year and ranks second on the team in catches. Montgomery also played on most special teams units.

The former Saints, Jets and Packers return man signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract in free agency last spring. He’s scheduled to carry a $1.9 million cap hit next season, per Over The Cap, though the team could create $1.75 million in cap space by releasing him.

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