Referee

Patriots get a break against hapless Jaguars

After (sort of) watching the Jacksonville Jaguars up close there is one obvious conclusion:

This train wreck chugged into Foxborough right on time Sunday.

Admittedly, anyone with a soul had to occasionally avert their gaze. Gaping at it for prolonged periods indicates someone who needs serious anti-sadistic training.

None of the above is meant to discount the Patriots’ win, which clinched them a spot in the playoffs. They are 10-6, and no one wanted to see their fate rest on winning next week at Miami.

Disaster dogs the Patriots in Miami. Regurgitating the particulars of their nightmares down there would be cruel. Now they can go down a day or two early, enjoy a little rest and relaxation, then float through their final regular-season game and focus on whoever they will face in the wild-card round.

If you believe Bill Belichick would allow any such lollygagging, send up a flare and hope someone drags you back to reality.

For those of us who said the Pats could win nine games and have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, their mission is accomplished. We are tempted to declare that from here on they are playing with house money.

Not so, say the fibbers who claim to have seen glory days on the doorstep since the selection of Mac Jones at No. 15 in the NFL Draft. Buffalo, they say, hasn’t even clinched the division yet.

True enough. So, let’s get our parochial interests out of the way: Even if the Patriots finish 11-6, they will not win the division because Buffalo is not going to lose to the Jets.

If your hopes are riding on the narrow shoulders of the hopeless, please step back and take a breath.

The Titans and Chiefs are 11-5. Tennessee is the top seed because it beat the Chiefs two months ago and will finish the regular season stomping on the Houston Texans.

The Chiefs finish at Denver, where they could crush the Broncos and fly home no better off than they are this morning. But if they lose, they will helplessly watch the Bills leapfrog over them for the No. 2 seed because Buffalo gave Kansas City a whooping on Oct. 10.

But the Bengals are also 10-6, and if they finish tied with the Bills, they will elbow Buffalo in the ribs and shove them into the No. 4 slot because Cincy has a better conference record.

It now looks like the Pats would be at Buffalo for the first round of the playoffs. But don’t book a stay at the Hamburg, N.Y., Stadium View Inn just yet.

The Rubik’s cube of NFL playoff seeding could change.

Hunting and pecking through any more of this would make one scribe’s headache even worse.

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