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