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NFL playoff picture: Who to root for in Week 18 if you are a New England Patriots fan

Week 18 is here and the New England Patriots are on the verge of a playoff berth, but might need help if they lose on Sunday. Who should Patriots fans root for to help their chances?

Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots greets fans before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Results update: Unfortunately for Patriots fans, the season is over. New England fell to an inspired Buffalo Bills team 35-23. The Miami Dolphins took down the New York Jets, which allowed them to clinch the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoff picture.

The New England Patriots face good news and bad news heading into Week 18. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win, but they have to travel to face the Buffalo Bills to do so. The game kicks off from Highmark Stadium at 1 p.m. ET and the Patriots are 7.5-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook.

If the Patriots lose to the Bills, all is not lost. If you are a Patriots fan, you’ll have three games you’ll be paying attention to if the Patriots lose to the Bills. You need the Dolphins and Steelers to lose and the Jaguars to beat the Titans. Ties can impact things as well, but given the unlikelihood of a tie, we’ll stick with win/loss scenarios.

Dolphins vs. Jets

The Dolphins need a win and a Patriots loss to claim the final AFC wild card berth. This game could be a bit of an unpredictable mess. The Dolphins will be starting third string QB Skylar Thompson because Tua Tagovailoa is out due to injury and Teddy Bridgewater is only available in an emergency due to a finger injury.

The Dolphins are a 3-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. They are -175 on the moneyline while the Titans are +150.

Steelers vs. Browns

The Steelers host the Browns in their own must-win situation. Pittsburgh needs a win and losses by the Dolphins and Patriots to clinch a playoff berth. The Browns will be playing without Jadeveon Clowney and it’s unclear how many other starters might not play.

The Steelers are a 2.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. They are -135 on the moneyline while the Titans are +115.

Jaguars vs. Titans

Saturday PM update: The Jaguars have defeated the Titans, so the Patriots have one less potential opponent to worry about when it comes to the wild card scenarios. Jacksonville wins the AFC South and will host a playoff game. New England will now have to win to get in, or hope for losses from the Steelers and Dolphins.

The Jaguars can clinch the AFC South with a win, but have a playoff route with a loss. They would need losses by the Dolphins, Patriots, and Steelers in order to clinch a wild card berth. The Titans have no alternate route so will be playing extra desperate. Tennessee will be starting backup QB Joshua Dobbs in place of an injured Ryan Tannehill.

The Jaguars are a 6.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. They are -275 on the moneyline while the Titans are +230.