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

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

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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)

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.