The bad news is that the Pats don't control their own destiny. They can win out, finish 11-5, and miss the playoffs. The good news is that the help they need can come from several different places.
Currently, there are four teams vying for two spots in the AFC. The Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins are tied atop the AFC East. The Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, and Ravens are tied for the 2nd and final AFC Wild Card spot. The Jets, Dolphins, and Ravens all have better conference records than the Pats. In the event of a tie, the Pats lose.
All of this assumes the Patriots win their last two games. If they don't, they're out.
The best shot is the Wild Card. Since the Dolphins and Jets play each other in Week 17, one of them will knock the other one out of the Wild Card race. This leaves just the Pats and Ravens. Baltimore has to play the 9-5 Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday night. That's a real tough game. We all saw what the Cowboys did to the Giants. Then Baltimore finishes their season at home against the lowly Jaguars.
The Pats can also slip in if the Colts lose their last two games. Indy is at Jacksonville Thursday night, then they host Tennessee in Week 17, so it isn't much of a stretch.
The Pats can stay in the division race if either (or both) the Jets and Dolphins lose in Week 16. The Jets are at the 3-11 Seahawks, and the Dolphins are at the 2-12 Chiefs. If the Jets lose, then the Pats need them to be the Dolphins in Week 17. If the Dolphins lose, then the Pats need them to beat the Jets in Week 17. If they both lose, then it doesn't matter who wins in Week 17.
If the Jets and Dolphins both win this weekend, the Pats would need them to tie each other in Week 17 in order to win the AFC East.
So this weekend the teams to root for are:
New England over Arizona (duh)
Dallas over Baltimore
Jacksonville over Indianapolis
Seattle over New York
Kansas City over Miami