With the Patriots win over the Jets on Sunday night and the Broncos loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati, New England clinches the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the postseason. Here’s a look at their playoff seedings during the Bill Belichick era and how they’ve fared in the playoffs.

2000: No playoffs.
2001: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVI.
2002: No playoffs.
2003: No. 1 seed, win Super Bowl XXXVIII.
2004: No. 2 seed, win Super Bowl XXXIX.
2005: No. 4 seed, lose divisional playoff in Denver.
2006: No. 4 seed, lost AFC title game in Indy.
2007: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLII.
2008: No playoffs.
2009: No. 3 seed, lose wild card game at home against Baltimore.
2010: No. 1 seed, lose divisional playoff at home against New York.
2011: No. 1 seed, lose Super Bowl XLIV.
2012: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game at home against Baltimore.
2013: No. 2 seed, lose AFC title game in Denver.
2014: No. 1 seed.

Overall, the Patriots have had the No. 1 seed on four previous occasions ‘€” they’€™ve won the Super Bowl once, lost a divisional playoff and come up just short in two Super Bowls. They’€™ve also had the No. 2 seed four times, and have won two Super Bowls (2001, 2004) and lost two AFC title games (2012, 2013).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots can thank Dre Kirkpatrick and the Bengals for clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Bengals had Peyton Manning on the run all night, picking off the quarterback 4 times. (Getty Images)

The Bengals had Peyton Manning on the run all night, picking off the quarterback 4 times. (Getty Images)

The Patriots can thank Dre Kirkpatrick and the Bengals for clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Cincinnati defensive backs intercepted Peyton Manning four times, including a game-sealing pick-six by Kirkpatrick with under three minutes left, to lead the Bengals to a 37-28 win over the Broncos Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Manning, who had been 8-0 in his career against Cincinnati, was intercepted four times in a game for the sixth time in his career and the first time since 2010.

The win means the Patriots will have home field advantage all the way to the Super Bowl while the Bengals clinched a playoff berth for a fourth straight season. Cincinnati improved to 10-4-1 and will play Pittsburgh next Sunday night in Pittsburgh for the AFC North title. Denver had a chance to clinch a first-round bye with a win. Now, the Bengals could finish No. 2 and earn a bye if they beat the Steelers and the Broncos lose to the Raiders.

Another result of the Cincinnati win is that the Patriots will play the Bills at 1 p.m. Sunday at Gillette since that game has no playoff implications.

Andy Dalton spotted the Broncos an early 7-0 lead when he overthrew A.J. Green on a pass over the middle. The ball went off his outstretched hands and into the arms of former Patriot Aqib Talib. The corner back fell to the ground to make the catch, got up and returned it 21 yards for a pick-six and a Broncos lead. Green suffered an upper right arm injury on a hit from T.J. Ward, and was extremely limited and ineffective the rest of the game.

But from there, the Bengals defense dominated the rest of the first half. The Bengals held Manning off the scoreboard while scoring 20 straight points.

Rookie Jeremy Hill broke off an 85-yard run on the first play after Talib’s interception return. The Bengals added a Mike Nugent field goal and a short 2-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Jermaine Gresham. The Bengals held a 20-7 halftime lead when Connor Barth missed a 49-yard field goal.

A key turning point of the game came midway through the third quarter as it appeared the Bengals were ready to add to their 27-21 lead. Hill ran up the middle to the Denver 8. Gresham failed to hold his block on Von Miller, who crashed in on Hill and stripped the ball loose. Manning then drove the Broncos 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Manning hit Emmanuel Sanders for the second of their two third quarter touchdown connections in the final minute of the quarter. The Broncos outscored the Bengals, 21-7, in the third to take a 28-27 lead into the final quarter.

The Bengals had a chance to take a lead when Adam “Pacman” Jones picked off Manning at the Denver 23. But teammate Reggie Nelson was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. The Bengals couldn’t convert a first down and were knocked out of field goal range.

But the Bengals would get another break when former Patriot Brandon Tate returned a punt 49 yards to the Denver 12. Nugent kicked a 23-yard field goal to give Cincinnati the lead again, 30-28, with 7:49 left in the fourth. On the next drive, Manning appeared to connect with Demaryius Thomas on a 50-yard completion on third down but Thomas was called for a facemask penalty and Manning was sacked on the next play.

Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted a Manning pass intended for Demaryius Thomas and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown with 2:41 left to give the Bengals a 37-28 lead. Kirkpatrick intercepted Manning again with just over a minute left at the Cincinnati 5 to clinch the win for the Bengals.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Bruschi joins the conversation on the Patriots win over the Jets and other games over the weekend.

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Belichick gives insight on the Patriots victory over the Jets and starts preparing for the Bills.

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Vince talks about the win over the Jets and his blocked field goal.

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Deion Sanders had some nice things to say about Bill Belichick and the Patriots on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Deion Sanders had some nice things to say about the Patriots on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Here’s what the national pundits were saying about the Patriots before and after their win over the Jets Sunday.

Deion Sanders on NFL Network after the game: “[The Patriots] offensively and defensively, are poised to win it all. They have the quarterback, they have the corners, they have a running game, they have a couple guys that can catch the ball … and there is no answer for [Rob] Gronkowski in the NFL.”

Rodney Harrison on NBC Sports after the game on possible concerns about the Patriots: “If I had one concern about the Patriots, it would be at the strong safety position, and maybe even at the linebacker position, covering tight ends down the field. Patrick Chung gave up a touchdown to an average tight end, and that’s been the theme the entire year.”

Tony Dungy on NFL Network after the game on if the Jets provided a blueprint to beat the Patriots: “The blueprint is, if you can put the pressure on Tom Brady and rush. The Jets do it [with] creative rushes, and they make things uncomfortable.”

Shaun O’Hara on NFL Network before the game on if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are the greatest coach-quarterback combination in NFL history: “When you look at the way the game has changed now with free agency, with the salary cap implications [and] with the parity that goes on around the league, the fact that they’ve been able to win 12 [division titles] and the consistency that they’ve had up there, yeah absolutely I’ll say that they are.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Brandon Bolden

Brandon Bolden

FOXBORO — Despite the fact that if Cincinnati finds a way to beat Denver Monday night — which would clinch the top seed in the AFC for New England — a few of the Patriots said they don’t plan on spending too much time wrapped up in the Bengals-Broncos game.

“I don’t even think I’m watching the game tonight — I’ve actually got a birthday party I’ve got to get to,” confessed running back Brandon Bolden in the locker room Monday afternoon. “Nobody is really talking about it. Everybody is still trying to recover from the Jets game, the war we had yesterday, so I think everybody is going to take the rest of the day to try to just recover.

“If they watch football, they do. But I don’t think anybody is rooting for anybody.”

If Denver beats Cincinnati, that would mean New England’s regular-season finale against the Bills next Sunday at Gillette would still be in play as a meaningful contest as it relates to the playoff chase. As far as tight end Tim Wright is concerned, the focus on Buffalo is the bigger priority for the Patriots.

“It’s going to be a good game,” said Wright when asked about Bengals and Broncos. “[But] we’€™re not really looking past what has to go on with the Bills — what’s coming up next for us. But it’s going to be a good game for them.

“[We’re] just focused on the Bills.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tim Wright

Tim Wright

FOXBORO — With the Patriots trailing 13-7 with 6:39 left in the third quarter Sunday against the Jets, and only totaling 61 yards of total offense on their first seven drives, they needed a spark, something to ignite the offense.

The team went to a no-huddle offense on their eighth drive of the game with Shane Vereen at running back, Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright at tight end and Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola as wide receivers. The change up worked as the Patriots gained some momentum by going 81 yards in 13 plays before settling for a 24-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, cutting the Jets lead to 13-10.

Even though the Patriots didn’t record a touchdown, the change of pace gained the offense some much needed momentum.

“I guess it did. Guys got into a rhythm,” Wright said on Monday. “We’€™ve got great players in the locker room, great players that can step in and get the job done. I guess once they got the confidence going, it got going well for us.”

On the following Jets possession, Jamie Collins picked off Geno Smith and then the Patriots continued to utilize the up-tempo offense on their eight play, 38-yard drive capped off by a Jonas Gray 1-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, which put the Patriots on top, 17-13.

On the two scoring drives in the second half where they primary went no-huddle, the Patriots totaled 119 yards. This is compared to the other nine drives in the game where they totaled only 112.

“Sometimes there are different advantages that you may be able to gain based on personnel, what we have in the game, what they have in the game, how easy or difficult it may be to communicate at that point in the game, or if it’€™s a home game or a road game ‘€“ that certainly affects that, to be able to go at that pace,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Monday’s conference call referring to the Gray’s touchdown drive. “And sometimes you do it just to try to kick-start something if you’€™re having trouble sustaining drives or putting too many plays together. It’€™s obviously something we have done well in the past at times, and I think it did help us and our guys did a good job executing on that series.

“We actually did it in a few more series than the one in particular you’€™re referring to there — I think it was the second drive of the third quarter — I thought our guys did a good job of executing and communicating what we were trying to do quickly and playing as fast as we could.”

Wright played a major role in those two drives as after by our count getting just six snaps in the first half, he had 30 in the second half.

“It just changes the look for us,” Wright said of the no-huddle offense. “Like I said, we’€™re a very diverse offense. We’€™ve got things that we can fall on, so that’€™s what we did, and it came up big for us.”

With the win, the Patriots clinched a first-round bye and with a win over the Bills on Sunday, or with a Bengals win over the Broncos Monday night, they can clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. Wright and the team are solely focused on getting a win Sunday against Buffalo.

“€œ[They’€™re a] great team,” said Wright. “They’€™ve been playing well the second half of the year. We’€™ve really got to get going on them early, and it’€™s going to be a great week of preparation for us.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots announced Monday the possibility of Sunday’s game being flexed to a later time because of the NFL’s flex scheduling.