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Sunday Morning Bloody Mary: Why Patriots-Bears Isn't As Important As You Think

We should root for the Chicago Bears today. The off chance of a New England Patriots collapse would be a very good thing. However, the Patriots will still be in control of the AFC East even if they lose today. The NFL tiebreaking procedures spell this out clearly.

Say the Jets win out then the Patriots lose today but win their last three games. Both teams would finish 13-3. The first tiebreaker is head to head. The two teams split. The second is record in the division. Both teams would have beaten Miami and Buffalo once more to finish 5-1 in the AFC East. The third tiebreaker would be record in common games. They would both finish 10-2. The fourth tiebreaker would be conference record. Both would finish at 10-2 in the AFC. The fifth tiebreaker is strength of victory or record of teams they have won against.

If the Jets go 13-3, the teams they would have won against currently own a 66-90 record. If the Pats lose today and win their last three, their wins would have come over teams with a combined record of 72-85. That might not seem like a lot, but it will be difficult for there to be much movement in the Jets' direction. Remember, the Jets and Pats play 14 common games, which means the majority of their wins overlap and thus do the Jets no good. These wins help the Pats as much as the Jets. Even the teams the Jets have beaten that the Patriots have not have games to play against other teams the Jets have beaten, which mitigates the good some of their potential victories could do Gang Green.

The bottom line is that the Jets will still need help to win the division no matter what happens in Chicago. The path will be a bit easier with a Bears win, but the clearest path is for Gang Green to win out and for the Pats to drop one to either Miami or Buffalo, which would give the division tiebreaker to New York.