The New England Patriots suffered their first loss of the season in Week 9, and now they have two weeks to look at film and make the necessary corrections before the toughest part of their 2019 schedule begins.
The defending Super Bowl champions are one of six teams on a Week 10 bye. Even though the Patriots will be off Sunday, there are still several games on the schedule that will impact their standing in the AFC playoff picture.
Here's a look at six games Patriots fans should keep an eye on during the bye week.
Sunday, Nov. 10
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS
The Bills are 6-2 and still a threat to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East. The chances of Buffalo fading down the stretch aren't high, either, due to its very soft upcoming schedule that includes matchups against the Browns, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos over the next three weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS
The Chiefs are the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture with a slim lead over the Oakland Raiders for the AFC West lead. Reigning league MVP and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will return to game action after missing the last two weeks because of a knee injury. Mahomes and the Chiefs play the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Week 14.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS
The Ravens beat the Patriots 37-20 last week to improve their record to 6-2 and establish themselves as the biggest threat to the defending champs in the race for the No. 1 seed. They likely will be just one game behind the Pats for the top seed after Sunday's matchup against the winless Bengals, who Baltimore beat 23-17 last month.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m., CBS
The Colts lost the AFC South lead in Week 9 with a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the defeat also dropped them all the way down to the second wild-card spot in the conference. Former Patriots backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett has played really well as the Colts' starter following Andrew Luck's surprising retirement in August. However, Brissett won't play in Week 10 after he suffered a knee injury last week, and that means another former Patriots backup in Brian Hoyer will get the start versus the Dolphins. Indy also is a potential playoff opponent for New England (likely in the Divisional Round if it happened).
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m., NBC
This matchup doesn't have any AFC playoff implications for the Patriots, but it's still a tremendous game between two of the best teams in the NFC. The Cowboys will be aiming to remain atop the NFC East, while the Vikings will try to atone for last week's loss to a Mahomes-less Chiefs team with a bounce-back performance.
Monday, Nov. 11
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
This game also doesn't impact the AFC playoff picture, but it's still a phenomenal matchup between two top contenders (and potential Super Bowl opponents for the Pats) with excellent quarterbacks. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has guided his team to an 8-0 record, and he's now 16-2 in his career as a starter after being Tom Brady's backup in New England for 3-plus seasons. San Francisco has played a soft schedule to this point and Seattle will be its first true test of 2019. The 49ers' talented defense must find a way to slow down Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who's among the top candidates for MVP with 22 touchdowns and only one interception through nine games. Former Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon also could make his Seahawks debut Monday night after Seattle claimed him off waivers before Week 9.
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