Heading into Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season, no one has clinched a spot in the final playoff picture. The New England Patriots could be among the first teams to make the postseason, though they’ll need plenty of help to do so this weekend.

The Patriots’ playoff chances are extremely high as they sit atop the AFC standings with four games left on the schedule. Because the Week 15 playoff picture is so crowded, New England isn’t in with a victory in its next game.

New England visits the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night. A win over the Colts alone wouldn’t lock up a spot for the Patriots in the final playoff bracket, but it would be a big step.

One way for New England to make the playoffs involves 10 other games on the Week 15 schedule, according to nflplayoffscenarios.com. Included in that scenario is a loss for the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night and a loss for the Las Vegas Raiders in the Saturday afternoon game.

Losses by the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens would also benefit Bill Belichick’s team.

Only two games separate New England and Denver, which enters Week 15 as the AFC’s No. 10 seed. The Raiders and Dolphins are three games behind the Patriots.

The Patriots have a two-game lead over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. New England defeated Buffalo 14-10 in its most recent game, extending its winning streak to seven games. Buffalo is the No. 7 seed.

A loss Saturday could drop the Patriots from the No. 1 to the No. 3 seed. The Chiefs and Tennessee Titans share the same 9-4 record as New England and are both favored in their Week 15 games.

Indianapolis is a short favorite over New England, despite the Patriots’ stretch of impressive play. New England is two games ahead of Indianapolis, which enters Week 15 as the AFC’s second wild-card team.

FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model gives the Patriots a 98% chance to make the playoffs, an 80% chance to win the division and a 47% chance to clinch a first-round bye.

The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title by beating the Colts in Week 15 and the Bills in Week 16. The Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 and visit the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale.

New England missed the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since the 2008 season.

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. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images