By Traci McCartney //@traciamc
It’s that time of year again – Christmas is over, New Year’s Eve is approaching, and everyone is anticipating a fresh start and the new year.
For football fans, the playoffs are approaching and the excitement of the possibility of your team going to the Super Bowl is growing. For Patriots fans, dreams of another Lombardi Trophy are dancing in their heads.
But, in true fashion, Coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots are focused on the next game.
In the past 2 weeks, they’ve won a game against another AFC powerhouse, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh with yet ANOTHER controversial “what is a catch?” call. They had a blowout of a game against the division rival Buffalo Bills in what was shaping up to be competitive at halftime.
Then yesterday, in a move that shocked the NFL world and sent Steelers fans reeling, the Patriots acquired linebacker James Harrison. On Saturday, the Steelers cut Harrison, a 14 year veteran on their squad, to free up a roster spot for an offensive tackle who will be returning after a suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs. The Patriots brought Harrison in for a visit and signed him to a one year deal on Tuesday…making for very interesting Twitter and Instagram feeds, including this one from the man himself:
But Coach Belichick didn’t exactly want to talk about James Harrison in his presser this morning…he’s looking to the Patriots’ next game against the Jets.
Bill Belichick shared his thoughts on James Harrison today. pic.twitter.com/rdAZvQdNv8
— Boston.com Patriots News (@BDCPatriots) December 27, 2017
This game has playoff implications. Right now, the Patriots and Steelers have the same record. They are separated by the head to head game that the Patriots won. So, if both teams win this week, the Patriots will not only have the first round bye, but home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The only scenario where the Steelers win the #1 seed is if the Patriots lose to the Jets and the Steelers go on to beat the winless Browns.
So far, the AFC Playoff scene is as follows: Patriots #1, Steelers #2, Jaguars #3 and Chiefs #4. The Wild Card spots haven’t been determined, but if the Ravens and the Titans both win this week, they’ve secured their spots. The Ravens are playing the Cincinnati Bengals at home this week, while the Titans will match up against their division rival and winner, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Otherwise, the Chargers and the Bills are still hanging around with a chance to get in should one of the other teams lose and they win. The Chargers have an advantage having beat the Bills earlier this season. The Bills will be traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins, and the Chargers are playing the Raiders “at home” in the StubHub Center. But, anyone who lives in Southern California knows that it will be more like a Raiders home game.
As for the Patriots, how will James Harrison’s signing affect the team and the playoffs? Only time will tell, but it sure is fun to speculate! Until then, we’re on to Week 17 and the New York Jets!
Talk Patriots with Traci on Twitter @Traciamc