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NFL playoff picture 2014: Broncos don't get the help they need

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The Patriots look to have survived the AFC East; the Chargers are in win-and-they're-in mode, and the Chiefs need some help to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The worst news of a dramatic Week 16 NFL Sunday for Denver Broncos fans happened in the AFC East, where the New England Patriots came back to beat the New York Jets, and the Buffalo Bills lost to the lowly Oakland Raiders.

The Bills' loss knocked them out of playoff contention, meaning that instead of putting the pressure on themselves and Tom Brady to potentially pull off an AFC East upset in Week 17, they'll be playing with one foot out the door and toward their respective living rooms. (I can't imagine Kyle Orton rallying his Buffalo troops for what amounts to nothing, can you?)

In other words: the Patriots will almost surely win out and lock up the first seed in the playoffs, leaving the Broncos to win one more game this year and lock up Seed #2. Damn you, Oakland. Damn you, New York.

The road to the Super Bowl looks like it will go through New England in 2014.

Damn you, Foxboro.

Here's your updated AFC Playoff picture.

AFC Playoff Picture
Seed Team Record
1 NE New England Patriots 12-3
2 DEN Denver Broncos 11-3
3 CIN Cincinnati Bengals 9-4-1
4 IND Indianapolis Colts 10-5
5 PIT Pittsburgh Steelers 10-5
6 SD San Diego Chargers 9-6
- BAL Baltimore Ravens 9-6
- HOU Houston Texans 8-7
- KAN Kansas City Chiefs 8-7

Clinching scenarios

Here is how the different teams can clinch (H/T Adam Schefter).

PATRIOTS
Clinch AFC first seed with
1) Win vs BUF OR
2) DEN loss (either of last 2 games)

BRONCOS
Clinch AFC first seed with
1) Win (both of last 2 games) + NE loss

Clinch first-round playoff bye with
1) Win (either of last 2 games) OR
2) CIN loss vs PIT

BENGALS
Clinch AFC North with
1) Win vs PIT

Clinch playoff berth with
1) Win (either of last 2 games) OR
2) SD loss + BAL loss

STEELERS
Clinch AFC North with
1) Win

CHARGERS
Clinch Playoff berth with
1) Win

RAVENS
Clinch Playoff berth with
1) Win + SD loss OR
2) Win + CIN loses last 2 games

TEXANS
Clinch Playoff berth with
1) Win + SD loss + BAL loss

CHIEFS
Clinch Playoff berth with
1) Win + BAL loss + HOU loss

The other Conference

Here is how things are looking in the NFC (via SB Nation).

1. Seattle Seahawks, NFC West (11-4)

2. Detroit Lions, NFC North (11-4)

3. Dallas Cowboys, NFC East (11-4)

4. Carolina Panthers, NFC South (6-8-1)

5. Arizona Cardinals, wild card (11-4)

6. Green Bay Packers, NFC North (11-4)

Still in the hunt:

Atlanta Falcons (6-9)