After a week of inserting themselves back into the AFC playoff race, the Patriots took a step back in falling to the 2-7 Texans, 27-20 on the road Sunday afternoon.
New England is now 4-6 on the year and currently in 11th place in the AFC.
With that being said, they are still two games back of the final playoff spot, thanks to the extra team making the postseason this year. And they actually hold the tiebreaker against the Raiders, Ravens and Dolphins — who are currently seeds 7-9.
The Patriots need to win virtually all their remaining games and then get some help.
Here’s an updated AFC playoff picture with the remaining schedule for the contenders.
1. Pittsburgh (10-0)
Remaining games: vs. Baltimore, vs. Washington, at Buffalo, at Cincinnati, vs. Indianapolis, at Cleveland
2. Kansas City (9-1)
Remaining games: at Tampa Bay, vs. Denver, at Miami, at New Orleans, vs. Atlanta, vs. Los Angeles (Chargers)
3. Buffalo (7-3)
Remaining games: vs. Los Angeles (Chargers), at San Fransisco, vs. Pittsburgh, at Denver, at New England, vs. Miami
4. Indianapolis (7-3)
Remaining games: vs. Tennessee, at Houston, at Las Vegas, vs. Houston, at Pittsburgh, vs. Jacksonville
5. Tennessee (7-3)
Remaining games: at Indianapolis, vs. Cleveland, at Jacksonville, vs. Detroit, at Green Bay, at Houston
6. Cleveland (7-3)
Remaining games: at Jacksonville, at Tennessee, vs. Baltimore, at New York (Giants), at New York (Jets), vs. Pittsburgh
7. Las Vegas (6-4)
Remaining games: at Atlanta, at New York (Jets), vs. Indianapolis, vs. Los Angeles (Chargers), vs. Miami, at Denver
8. Baltimore (6-4)
Remaining games: at Pittsburgh, vs. Dallas, at Cleveland, vs. Jacksonville, vs. New York (Giants), at Cincinnati
9. Miami (6-4)
Remaining games: at New York (Jets), vs. Cincinnati, vs. Kansas City, vs. New England, at Las Vegas, at Buffalo
10. Denver (4-6)
Remaining games: vs. New Orleans, at Kansas City, at Carolina, vs. Buffalo, at Los Angeles (Chargers), vs. Las Vegas
11. Patriots (4-6)
Remaining games: vs. Arizona, at Los Angeles (Chargers), at Los Angeles (Rams), at Miami, vs. Buffalo, vs. New York (Jets)
ANALYSIS: Clearly, the Patriots are in a tough spot. They obviously need to take care of business in their own games, but also look to the Raiders, Ravens, Dolphins and Broncos to lose, as those are the four teams closest to them in the standings. To even be in the conversation, the Patriots need to get to 9-7, but likely 10-6, and that means basically winning out the remainder of the year. Being just 1-4 on the road so far this season, it’s hard to imagine them doing much with three straight road games in December (at Chargers, at Rams, at Dolphins). On the flip side, if the season ended today, they would have the No. 12 overall pick.