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NFL Playoff Picture, Week 11: Broncos remain AFC's third seed

The Broncos are still the third seed, but the AFC Playoff Picture will change based on the outcome of Bills-Patriots on Monday Night Football.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

On the bright side, the Cincinnati Bengals lost Sunday, making the Denver Broncos and them all tied up at 8-2 near the top of the AFC.

On the down side, the Bengals remained the AFC's second seed behind their superior Conference record.

The Broncos control their destiny for a playoff bye, but not the first seed

The Broncos are within striking distance of a playoff bye, and they control their destiny in that regard. The Broncos play both the top-seed New England Patriots and the Bengals down the stretch, meaning they can deliver each a crucial Conference loss (and, of course, a head-to-head loss) that would play a major role in the AFC's playoff seeding. Denver can't claim Home Field Advantage without help from one of the Patriots' opponents (go Bills Eagles Texans Titans Jets Dolphins), but they'd need to go perfect down the stretch anyway; while anything can happen in the NFL, it's more likely the Broncos should focus on keeping up with the Bengals to earn a playoff bye.

The seeding following Week 11 games (through Sunday night):

NFL Playoff Picture

1. New England Patriots (9-0, still to play Monday Night)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (8-2, better Conference record than Denver)
3. Denver Broncos (8-2)
4. Indianapolis Colts (5-5, head-to-head win over HOU)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
6. Buffalo Bills (5-4, 5-3 in AFC, still to play Monday Night)

In the hunt

7. Kansas City Chiefs (5-5, 4-2 AFC)
8. Houston Texans (5-5, 4-3 AFC, head-to-head loss to IND & KC, head-to-head win over NYJ)
9. New York Jets (5-5, 4-4 AFC, head-to-head loss to HOU)

If the season ended today...

The Broncos would play the 6th-seed Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round. This is far from final, however - in fact, it is guaranteed to change following Monday Night Football between the Patriots and Bills.

If the Bills lose, they would fall to the eighth seed, and Kansas City would vault into the playoff picture.

If the Bills lose Monday, Kansas City vaults into the playoff picture

If the Bills win, they would advance to the fifth seed ahead of Pittsburgh due to Conference record, and the Broncos would play the Steelers at home to kick off the playoffs. While the Steelers seem like a more intimidating foe, it's worth hammering this point home - that means the Bills would have beaten the Patriots. Which would mean the Broncos would control their entire playoff destiny, Home Field Advantage and all.

Go Bills!