The New England Patriots are back to being one of the best teams in the AFC. Two seasons removed from Tom Brady’s departure, Bill Belichick and Co. appear well on their way to making the playoffs.

Led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones and one of the NFL’s top defenses, New England extended its winning streak to five games Thursday night. The Patriots shut out the Atlanta Falcons 25-0 on the road in the first game on the Week 11 schedule. 

The Patriots improved their record to 7-4, moving up to the No. 5 seed. New England can slide into first place in the AFC East with a loss by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The Patriots and the Tennessee Titans are the only AFC teams that enter the weekend with at least seven wins. New England hosts Tennessee in Week 12. 

The latest betting odds suggest that New England is highly unlikely to miss the playoffs. New England has -500 odds to earn a postseason berth at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Patriots are a game ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders, the No. 8 seed and the first team out of the latest playoff picture. 



New England’s playoff outlook wasn’t nearly as optimistic one month ago when the team started the 2021 season with a 2-4 record. Over the last five games, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 175-50. During that stretch, New England leads the league in sacks and takeaways while giving up fewer points than any other team.

Jones was the fifth quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he’s had far more success than any signal-caller picked ahead of him. After going 22-26 for 207 yards in Atlanta, Jones has completed 70.2% of his passes, which ranks third in the NFL. Jones has an average 102.8 passer rating over the last eight games.

In their first season without Tom Brady in two decades, the Patriots missed last year’s playoffs with a 7-9 record. New England won the AFC East title every season from 2009-2019.

Mac Jones New England Patriots Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots reacts as the Patriots defeat the Falcons 25-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images