Patriots miss the playoffs? Bills win AFC East and get a bye? Both those things could happen and here's how

The New England Patriots might be sitting at the top of the AFC East right now with a 10-3 record, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're a lock to make the postseason. As matter of fact, there's still one scenario possible where the Patriots could MISS the playoffs, and because we love covering crazy playoff scenarios here, we're going to go over how exactly that could happen. 

Last week, we explained how the Cowboys could end up winning the NFC East with a 6-10 record -- which is no longer possible unfortunately -- and this week, not only are we going to go through the scenario that has the Patriots missing out on the postseason, but we're also going to explain how that will open the door for the BUFFALO BILLS to win the AFC East, something they haven't done since 1993. 

Not only could the Bills win the division, but they could also end up with a first-round bye. 

Let's go over what has to happen over the next three weeks for the impossible to become a reality. 

Week 15

Bills beat Steelers
Bengals beat Patriots
Texans beat Titans
Chiefs beat Broncos

Can all this happen? Of all things on this list, the only one that seems far-fetched is the Bengals beating the Patriots. However, that game has gained some spice over the past 48 hours due to New England's latest video controversy, and the Bengals might be extra motivated to win. Of course, even if the Bengals are extra motivated, that might mean they'll only lose by 12 instead of 22. 

Week 16

Bills beat Patriots
Titans beat Saints
Texans beat Buccaneers
Steelers beat Jets
Chiefs lose to Bears

Can all this happen? The biggest long shot on this list is probably the Titans beating the Saints, but that doesn't seem impossible. The Titans are 6-1 since handing the starting quarterback job over to Ryan Tannehill. The Chiefs game against the Bears will come on the road at Soldier Field in primetime, so that won't be an easy win, especially if the Bears are still alive in the NFC playoff race. 

Week 17

Bills beat Jets
Dolphins beat Patriots
Titans beat Texans
Steelers beat Ravens
Chiefs beat Chargers

Can all this happen? The thought of the Patriots losing to the Bengals AND Dolphins over the final three weeks of the season seems nearly impossible, but the impossible sometimes happens in the NFL. Other than that, the only other result in Week 17 that could get dicey is the Steelers beating the Ravens, but there's a good chance Baltimore will have home-field advantage wrapped up going into Week 17, which means they'll likely be resting their starters during the final week of the season, paving the way for a Steelers win. 

If all this DOES happen, here's what the AFC playoff field would look like in our crazy scenario:

1. Ravens (13-3)
2. Bills (12-4)
3. Chiefs (11-5)
4. Texans (10-6)
5. Steelers (10-6)
6. Titans (10-6)

With the Titans, Steelers and Patriots all tied at 10-6, the tiebreaker in this instance would be conference record. In our scenario, the Steelers would finish with an 8-4 record against AFC teams while the Titans would finish with a 7-5 record. Both of those would beat out the Patriots, who would finish with a 6-6 record. 

The good news for the Patriots is that they can avoid this nuclear scenario with a win on Sunday. Beating the Bengals will lock up a playoff spot for New England. The Bills can also clinch a playoff spot with a win this week. For a look at all the playoff clinching scenarios in Week 15, just click here

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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