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AFC Playoff Picture: Road to Super Bowl goes through Foxboro

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Like it or not, it's going to take a monumental collapse for the Patriots to relinquish the #1 seed. For the Broncos to win home field throughout the playoffs, New England needs to lose twice and Denver needs to win out, which does not seem likely given wildly inconsistent play week to week.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Standings

Team

Seed

Record

%

Division

AFC

Key Wins

Key Losses

Next

Patriots

1

8-2

.800

2-1

6-2

Den, Cincy, Ind

KC, Mia

Det

Broncos

2

7-3

.700

3-0

5-1

Ind, KC, SD

NE

Mia

Bengals

3

6-3-1

.650

2-1

4-3

n/a

n/a

@Hou

Colts

4

7-4

.600

2-2

5-3

Bal, Cincy

Den, Pit, NE

Jax

Chiefs

5

7-3

.700

1-1

5-2

NE, SD, Buf, Mia

Den

@Oak

Steelers

6

7-4

.636

2-2

6-3

Ind

Cle

Bye

Miami

7

6-4

.600

3-2

5-2

NE, SD, Buf

KC

@Den

San Diego

8

6-4

.600

2-2

5-3

---

Den, KC, Mia

St.L

Sitting Pretty

New England now owns head to head victories against teams who currently occupy the 2-4 seeds. The biggest outside threat would be Kansas City who won an early season meeting against New England.

Locked in #2, #5

It seems as if whoever comes out of the AFC West will be locked into the #2 seed while the runner up will get the #5 seed and a road slate to make the Super Bowl.

Chiefs in prime position

Kansas City now owns victories against each and every team the Broncos have lost to this season. Meaning if they are able to split the season series in Arrowhead in a couple of weeks, and both teams finish with identical conference and divisional records--the 4th tiebreaker would go to common opponents. Kansas City has beaten Seattle, New England, and St. Louis giving them the edge here.

Where do the Broncos stand?

The only way to ensure the Broncos enter the postseason with a 1st round bye is to run the table. As long as the Broncos beat Kansas City and sweep the season series, they could afford one more loss in terms of the division. In order to snag the top spot in the conference, the Broncos need to win out and hope New England drops two games.

Colts locked in

Indianapolis should win their division but unless they get some help, they should be locked in to either the #3 or #4 seed.

Miami fighting for playoff life

The Dolphins are currently in the 7th spot just on the outside of the race. They are unlikely to win the division with a two game deficit and only one game against New England, but they could run the table and make things interesting. First things first and that's a matchup with Denver this week. A loss would leave them at 6-5 and a full game behind Pittsburgh for the 6 seed.

Game of the Week: Miami @ Denver

This is going to be quite a matchup for both teams as both need this key AFC victory in order to maintain their current standings. A loss for the Broncos would put them in no worse than a 1st place tie in the West, but it could drop them out of the 2 spot with a Bengal victory. A loss for Miami leaves them a game out of the 6 seed and more importantly brings them back to the rest of the pack with 3 conference losses.

Silver Lining

Though Denver has lost three games, only one of those losses come in conference. The Broncos have an inside track on the best conference record which is the 2nd tiebreaker behind head-to-head results.