NFL Playoff Scenarios: Patriots Lock Up Division, But Not First-Round Bye

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: The New England Patriots get pumped up before agape against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bears 13-10 in overtime. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos 41-23 Sunday. Here's how the victory affected the Patriots' AFC playoff picture.

Sunday's 41-23 victory over the Denver Broncos put the New England Patriots in solid position to earn the AFC playoff's No. 1 seed or clinch a first-round bye. The Patriots (11-3) currently own the No. 1 spot, but that's only because the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) have yet to play their Week 15 match up at the San Francisco 49ers (Monday, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN).

If New England were to win their remaining games -- vs. Miami Dolphins and vs. Buffalo Bills, respectively --  then all the Patriots would need is the Steelers to lose one of its next three games -- vs. St. Louis Rams and at Cleveland Browns -- to earn the No. 1 seed.

To clinch a first-round bye, New England just needs to win one of its next two games; or have the Houston Texans lose one of their next two games.

If the Patriots lose out and the Texans win out, then Houston could earn the No. 2-playoff spot.

AFC Playoff Picture

Division Leaders
New England Patriots (11-3) Clinched Division
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) Clinched Playoff Berth
Houston Texans (10-4) Clinched Division
Denver Broncos (8-6)

Wild-Card
Baltimore Ravens (10-4) Clinched Playoff Berth
New York Jets (8-6)

In The Hunt
Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
Tennessee Titans (7-7)
Oakland Raiders (7-7)
San Diego Chargers (7-7)

For more postgame coverage of Patriots Vs. Broncos, stay tuned to our storystream. For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page and blog, Pats Pulpit.

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