Ravens loss clears Pats' path to bye

December, 9, 2012
12/09/12
4:43
PM ET
The Patriots don't take the field for roughly another 28 hours for their Week 14 "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Houston Texans (8:30 ET, ESPN), but they received some good news on Sunday afternoon when the Washington Redskins upended the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 in overtime.

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The loss pushed the Ravens to 9-4 on the season, meaning that the Patriots (9-3) now control their own destiny for a top-two seed in the AFC, which would result in a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Though the Patriots entered Week 14 play with the tiebreaker over the Ravens in a three-team knot for the two seed, the possibility remained for both teams to finish 13-3 in the regular season. Because the Ravens play the Broncos in Week 15, Baltimore running the table would have meant knocking the Broncos out of the race for the No. 2 seed, potentially making the two-seed tiebreaker a head-to-head situation with the Patriots, which the Ravens would win because they defeated New England back in Week 3.

Because the Patriots beat the Broncos earlier this season, they will hold the edge in a head-to-head tiebreaker if both teams finish 13-3, meaning wins in their final four games will give the Patriots at least the second seed. The top overall seed also is still a possibility.

With a huge game on Monday night against the Texans followed by another home game next Sunday night against the 49ers, running the table won't be easy for the Patriots, but with Baltimore's loss on Sunday, the ramifications of completing such a task became a little clearer.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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