New England Patriots fall, but so does the Titans and Ravens in wild AFC

New England Patriots (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

So, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones picked the wrong time to play like a rookie…or was it the right time?

Riding a seven-game winning streak and coming off a bye, the Patriots took a punch to the gut from an Indianapolis Colts team that were desperate for a win and boy were they ready…as ready as Bill Belichick and his team weren’t.

While self-inflicted mistakes and a special teams gifted touchdown contributed to an early 14-0-hole, Jones certainly didn’t help the matter by throwing a red zone interception and another interception that led to a Colts’ field goal.  By the time the Patriots got some life, they were down 20-0.

New England Patriots punched back, but it was a bit too late

But then, the rookie quarterback showed some fight back.  Aided by an interception by Carson Wentz, the Patriots rallied back to a 20-17 deficit.  But the defense couldn’t hold running back Jonathan Taylor in check when they really needed it.

The backbreaking 67-yard touchdown run not only sealed a 27-17 victory over the Patriots but has now set up a Week 16 AFC East showdown with the Buffalo Bills with the division title and perhaps a playoff spot at stake.

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Speaking of those Bills, they snapped a two-game winning streak by taking care of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in a 31-14 win.  There was really no doubt that the Bills would get back in the win column in this game, which now sets up a rematch in Foxborough.  The Patriots better bring their A game for this one or they could find themselves battling for a playoff spot in the final two weeks of the season.

While the crowded AFC playoff picture makes every game a big game, obviously, the significance of the Patriots holding off the Bills for the division title loom bigger given the resurgence of the Miami Dolphins.

Yes, the Dolphins have run six straight games with a 31-24 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.  With a 7-7 record, they are just a game behind the Bills and if the Patriots go down in Week 16, suddenly, the AFC East becomes a three-team race with just two weeks remaining.

Who would’ve thought it!

New England Patriots get more help from the Pittsburgh Steelers

Elsewhere in the AFC, the New England Patriots got help from the Pittsburgh Steelers who overcame a 13-3 deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 19-13.  The loss by the Titans propelled the Patriots to the No. 2 seed behind a Kansas City Chiefs team that survived Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.

And the only things stopping Tyler Huntley from being the most talked about quarterback the last couple of weeks is Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and his fascination with going for two when his team only needs an extra point to force the game into overtime.

Gutsy?  Yes, if they converted, but those decisions and again on Sunday in a 31-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers may cost his team the AFC North and even a playoff spot considering how crowded things are standings wise.  New England Patriots fans are certainly happy with the outcome of those decisions, but imagine if it was Bill Belichick making such decisions?

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In all, the Patriots still are in pretty good position following Week 15.  The loss is a humbling one, but not a loss that makes them any less of a contender.  However, a loss against the Bills may really get the panic ball rolling.

It’s on to Week 16.