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Horse Tracks: AFC Playoff picture becomes much clearer after this weekend

And it appears all roads will lead through New England in 2014, barring some miracle anyway. The football fan in me believes that the harder the road the greater the glory. Here's to the glory!

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff picture in the AFC is stacking up to be quite a show in Week 17, with the AFC North getting flexed to Sunday Night Football as the outcome of tonight's game doesn't matter either way for that division will be decided next week between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. The San Diego Chargers also control their own destiny with a win in Arrowhead, but if the Baltimore Ravens lose at home to the Cleveland Browns then there will be a small window of opportunity for the Kansas City Chiefs to sneak into the playoffs through the backdoor. Good stuff!

As for the Denver Broncos, well they can secure a first round bye tonight with a win. However, they will have to root on Kyle Orton in Week 17 and hope for an upset if they want home field advantage. That's what you get for losing to the St. Louis Rams, I suppose.

Over in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks jumped all the way from the sixth seed before last nights game to the first seed and in control of home field advantage with that big road win over the Arizona Cardinals. They should cruise to home field and one can only hope that it means there will be a Super Bowl rematch. I know in my heart of hearts that the Broncos were better than they played in February. I would love to find out for sure.

Also in the NFC North, the winner of the game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will snag a first round bye. The game is in Green Bay and the Lions have not won there since 1991, so I'm not really excited about their chances.

At the end of the day, I'm a Buffalo Bills fan next week - provided the Broncos get a road win tonight, of course.

Seahawks dominate Cardinals, ready for Super Bowl repeat? | The MMQB
As evidenced by their 35-6 domination of the Cardinals, no team is playing better football going into the final week than the reigning champion Seahawks. Let’s examine Seattle’s catalyst, what we learned in Week 16, the MVP race and more.

Horse Tracks

Get Hyped: Bengals Game |
Playoff implications are at stake this week, as the Broncos face the Bengals.

Five Key Matchups: Broncos-Bengals |
The clash between physical freaks Aqib Talib and A.J. Green should be fun to watch, while Terrance Knighton draws another rookie center.

Breaking down the Bengals offense |
With a revitalized ground game and the deep threat of A.J. Green, Cincinnati's offense can keep foes off-balance.

Breaking down the Bengals defense |
Cincinnati's D has struggled at times this season, but it roars into Week 16 off its best performance of the season.

Peyton Manning improves, practices on limited basis - Denver Post
Peyton Manning walked off the field Friday without a limp or a grimace. The right thigh injury that required treatment and rest on Thursday has improved. The Broncos listed Manning as a limited participant in Friday's practice, but the quarterback easily exceeded Thursday's activity when he departed after team stretch.

13 things to know about Week 16's MNF game -
Last week on Monday Night Football, we were forced to watch two of the NFL's most disappointing teams do battle as the Bears hosted the Saints. The week prior, the Packers made pretty easy work of the disappointing Falcons in a game which favored Green Bay by 13 points.

Focus On Running Backs In Broncos-Bengals Matchup " CBS Denver
When Andy Dalton  is on the sideline Monday night, he’ll make sure to steal a few glances at the field to check out his counterpart.

Denver Broncos on alert for recent red-zone issues - ESPN
The good news for the Denver Broncos is kicker Connor Barth, who was signed Nov. 25, is 11-for-11 in his field goal attempts since he arrived.

Broncos now a running team? Patriots' MVP: Gronkowski or Revis? | The MMQB
Have the Broncos gone away from Peyton Manning and become a (gulp) power-running team? Who’s the most valuable player for the Patriots, Darrelle Revis or Rob Gronkowski? Those questions and more, along with five thoughts on Week 16 in this edition of Settle This.

Clausen's Week 16 performance raises new questions for the Bears -
Jimmy Clausen had a solid day in relief of Jay Cutler. And now we have even more questions about what Chicago may or may not do with their starting quarterback and head coach once the season ends.

2015 NFL Draft order: Buccaneers, Titans have a chance at No. 1 -
Following Oakland's win on Sunday, the first overall pick is down to just two teams, but the order is far from settled with only one week to go.

Watch Marshawn Lynch run for the best touchdown this season -
How? What? How? These are the only words we can muster following Marshawn Lynch's astounding touchdown run against the Cardinals. Let's try to articulate this a little better.