Despite victory over Cardinals, playoff chances for Patriots still very slim
The New England Patriots would need a minor miracle to make the 2020 playoffs, even with the expanded playoff field. Let's take a look at the AFC playoff picture:
At the moment, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Tennessee, and Buffalo are almost already locked into the postseason. You can almost include the Browns in that group as well, considering they have games against both the Jets and Giants remaining on their schedule. The last two playoff spots right now belong to the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. Just outside the postseason sit the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders.
My projections have the Patriots finishing the season with a record of 8-8. That would mean that they go 3-2 in their remaining five games. I have them beating the LA Chargers, Losing to the Rams and Dolphins, and then beating the Bills and Jets. You can shuffle that around, but that is the most likely record from those games. That would obviously not be good enough for the playoffs, and land them at tenth in the AFC, which is where they currently sit.
The bottom line is, the Patriots, at the very least, are going to have to go 4-1 in their remaining games. That means they will likely have to beat two of Miami, the Rams, and the Bills. That is a tough task, especially considering they are on the road against Miami and LA. In addition, even if that does happen, it leaves them at just 9-7 overall, and on the outside looking in at the playoffs. They would need a few things to happen for them to get into the postseason with that record.
To get into the postseason at 9-7, the Patriots would need three of the following to happen:
Baltimore loses two of their remaining five (vs. DAL, @CLE, vs. JAC, vs. NYG, @CIN)
Miami loses three of their remaining five (vs. CIN, vs. KC, vs. NE, @LV, @BUF)
Las Vegas loses two of remaining five (@NYJ, vs. IND, vs. LAC, vs. MIA, @DEN)
Indianapolis loses three of remaining five (@HOU, @LV, vs. HOU, @PIT, vs. JAC)
It is possible that three of those things happens, but it is also pretty unlikely. Baltimore has an extremely easy end to their season, and Vegas' is not much tougher. Miami losing three of their last five does seem somewhat likely though, and it is possible that Indianapolis does as well, although that does appear more unlikely. The Patriots would definitely need a few bad losses from those teams.
If the Patriots win their remaining five games, they will make the playoffs. That is largely due to the fact that they already have the tie breaker against the Ravens and Raiders, and if they win out they will also have the tie breaker versus Miami.