National Football League roundup: Patriots earn top seed in AFC


They're the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs for the seventh time since the current playoff format started in 1990.

It's the result of winning 11 of 12 games after a last-second loss to the Panthers on October 1, and in that stretch the Patriots have almost doubled-up their opponents, outscoring them by an aggregate of 329-168.

Tupa wasn't flawless, taking a number of sacks, including one which led to a fumble and a New England touchdown.

Bill Belichick is always looking for an edge so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Patriots hung a thermometer in the Jets' tunnel.

The temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees but the wind chill made it feel more like zero degrees. He added a pair of touchdowns to increase his total to 32 to go along with his 4,577 passing yards, his team's 12 wins and New England's No. 1 ranking in the AFC.

Carson Wentz of the Eagles finished with one more touchdown and one fewer interception despite missing the final month with a knee injury, while Todd Gurley's strong close gives the Rams' running back a case for the NFL's MVP award, too. The play came one snap after the Patriots converted on a third-and-1 with a reverse play highlighted by Brady setting a block to spring Cooks free. New England is also 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games following an ATS win and 20-7 ATS in their last 27 versus the AFC. RB James White (ankle) was inactive for New England along with RB Rex Burkhead (knee), RB Mike Gillislee (knee), WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), DT Alan Branch (knee), OL Cole Croston and LB David Harris.

While the numbers say otherwise, this Patriots offense just hasn't felt like numerous Tom Brady-led units of the past.

Dion Lewis ran for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass, helping the Patriots wrap up the top seed.

But just because there aren't many meaningful games doesn't mean there can't be some fun ones. So might the lingering effects of his knee reconstruction. He alone beat the Jets, never mind Tom Brady. But it's also one of the most resilient teams that Belichick has coached, able to overcome devastating injuries (Edelman and Hightower are two of the NFL's top players at their positions; Ebner is one of the best special teams players) and hard losses. It is less likely that would happen if Harrison still was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Five of those passes went to Neal Sterling, who had a team-high 74 receiving yards. But with the playoffs next, more valuable than the production might've been the objective.

It sure looks like James Harrison has something left in the tank.

Chandler Catanzaro's second field goal of the day, this from 35 yards out, brought NY within 24-6 at the 10:28 mark of the fourth quarter. The Patriots scored 26 points and won comfortably, but it wasn't a performance the offense will want to duplicate in the postseason.

The New England Patriots already had a first-round bye locked up, and the New York Jets were limping to the end of another losing season.

"So we have it for one game in two weeks that we know we are going to be home for".

If Brady is on the bench and not attacking the Jets from the air, Belichick will have to get fancy with his play calling as three of his running backs are listed on the injury report this week.