The New England Patriots, who beat the Miami Dolphins 43-0 in Week 2, lost to them in Week 17 and cost themselves a first round bye.
The road to the AFC playoffs has traditionally gone through New England for the better part of two decades. The Patriots have been to the AFC Championship Game in eight straight years, and if they want to extend that streak to nine it will be a lot harder.
A 27-24 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins, combined with the Kansas City Chiefs’ ten point win over the Los Angeles Chargers, gives the Chiefs the two seed and the all important first round bye in the AFC playoffs thanks to their head-to-head win over New England earlier this season.
This is a massive swing in the AFC standings which seemed unimaginable back when the Patriots raced off to an 8-0 start and the Chiefs were dropping games without Patrick Mahomes. The Patriots stumbled down the stretch, going just 4-4 in the second half, while the Chiefs ended the year on a six-game winning streak to pass the Patriots.
This turn of events means that New England will not have a first round bye for the first time since the 2009 season, when they lost in the Wild Card round at home to the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots have only played in the Wild Card round three times in the Brady-Belichick era, and they have never reached a Super Bowl in a year where they didn’t get that bye.
New England’s loss is Kansas City’s gain since the Chiefs now get a week off and a home playoff game in the Divisional Round. CBS Sports put up a stat on their broadcast of the Chiefs’ game today indicating that teams with a first round bye have reached the Super Bowl 79.3 percent of the time since 1990, with teams that play on the first weekend of the playoffs getting through only 20.7 percent of the time.
That is a massive odds shift based on the results of one weekend of games, and it could re-define the AFC playoffs.