The New England Patriots have locked up a spot in the 2022 NFL playoff picture, but that’s where the certainty regarding the team’s postseason future ends. There are still scenarios for the Patriots to win a wild-card spot, clinch the AFC East title or even secure a first-round playoff bye in Week 18.

New England is the No. 5 seed in the latest AFC playoff picture at 10-6. The Patriots share the same record as the No. 4 seed Buffalo Bills and No. 3 seed Cincinnati Bengals. New England is a game behind the No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs and No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the standings.

The Patriots are scheduled to visit the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale. A loss would guarantee that New England is a wild-card team seeded somewhere No. 5 through No. 7, depending on the Week 18 results. A Patriots’ win, however, gives New England a chance to climb the standings.

Earning the AFC’s top seed and an automatic trip to the second round of the playoffs is possible, but highly unlikely. In addition to a New England victory over Miami, the Titans, Chiefs and Bills would all have to either lose or tie their Week 18 games for the Patriots to take the No. 1 seed.

On Saturday, Kansas City visits the Denver Broncos, who have been eliminated from contention. Tennessee visits the Houston Texans Sunday. A win over the 4-12 Texans would clinch the No. 1 seed for the Titans.

Buffalo hosts the New York Jets Sunday. The Bills are the biggest favorites on the Week 18 schedule, laying 17 points against the 4-12 Jets. Buffalo beat New York 45-17 in Week 10.

New England wins the AFC East if it beats Miami and Buffalo fails to beat New York. If the Patriots tie the Dolphins, New England can still win the division if the Bills lose to the Jets outright.

The Dolphins beat the Patriots 17-16 in the season opener. Miami lost seven straight games immediately after beating New England. The Dolphins followed up their losing streak with a seven-game winning streak before losing to the Titans in Week 17,

Miami has been eliminated from playoff contention.

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