How much longer will Patriots handle the Jets?
Rob Gronkowski says he’s all in for, uh, the rest of this year. Tom Brady says he wants to play next year and beyond.
That’s all well and good, but how does this all help the New England Patriots right now? The playoffs remain a mystery. Anything is possible.
Meanwhile, there’s no playoff for the Jets, who come into Gillette as a heavy underdog. That might not be the case next year. Remember, they finally have a quarterback worth depending on in rookie Sam Darnold.
But also keep in mind, too, Patriot fans, that you’re spoiled. Jets coach Todd Bowles will in all likelihood be coaching his final game for the team. Just two years ago on Christmas Eve he bolted from his hospital room in New York to make it to the game.
He may leave Gillette this time out of a job. Compare that to the Patriots drama and whining in the spring about being yelled at too much by their head coach.
Yet the Patriots will be able to get that second seed, at least, with a win, despite not looking like their old selves offensively. The QB is or has been hurt. The tight end is stumbling along. They have one receiver, Julian Edelman, who can beat his man.
“Every season presents a different challenge,” Gronkowski said. “Every season brings its own little challenges and you’ve just got to keep grinding.”
OK, grind on we will:
PATRIOTS 27, JETS 13
Not a masterpiece, but these final regular season games never are. The Patriots certainly need a feel good game from Brady, and believe it or not the Jets pass defense is not as good as Buffalo’s, unless you consider the year of Jamal Adams. Darnold, befuddled by Bill Belichick’s wizardry, throws three picks and it’s a good enough day to get that second seed.
RAVENS 23, BROWNS 22
You know, if the Browns hadn’t started Tyrod Taylor instead of Baker Mayfield at QB at the start of the year, they may have made the playoffs. And yes, they could knock of the Ravens here. But oh, that Baltimore defense. There’s got to be one big game/playoff berth-saving tackle there.
COLTS 24, TITANS 13
This is an Indy team that shut out Dallas, remember. And Marcus Mariota is banged up, and who knows for sure if he’ll play Sunday night. Colts in, Titans out. Sorry, Mike Vrabel.
CHIEFS 30, RAIDERS 21
KC wraps up the AFC’s top seed, which only means it will lose in a couple of weeks at Arrowhead again in the Divisional Round. But why is it every time there’s a big third or fourth down stop by the Chiefs secondary there’s also a flag to go with it? VIKINGS 23, BEARS 17
Vikes have scored nearly 70 points in two games since changing offensive coordinators. Da Bears are pretty much set for a Wild Card Game, and if they lose, it will be against these same Vikes. Different story next weekend at Soldier Field.
EAGLES 32, REDSKINS 14
Fly Eagles, fly, but home south for the winter and spring instead of to Chicago for a playoff game. But that Nick Foles is something else; it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next season. Hmmm, thanks to the unfortunate Alex Smith injury, these Redskins likely are in the market for a QB.
GIANTS 24, COWBOYS 22
News Flash: This will not be Eli Manning’s last game as a Giant. They will likely restructure him so it’s a softer cap hit. Who else can they get? Foles? Maybe, but doubt it, although a recent fan poll taken by The Athletic’s Gary Meyers had Foles as the overwhelming favorite over Manning. But doubt it happens. So Eli celebrates by leading the G-Men on a two-minute drive, and hits Sterling Shepard for the game-winner.
LAST WEEK: 5-2
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).