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Sunday, December 30, 2012
Patriots can get bye with win over Miami

By James Walker

The New England Patriots needed the Indianapolis Colts to play hard and well Sunday against the Houston Texans. And the Colts did just that in an emotional return for head coach Chuck Pagano.

Indianapolis beat Houston (12-4), 28-16, in the early game Sunday. That opens the door for New England to take over one of the top two seeds in the AFC with a win over the Miami Dolphins. New England also could get the No. 1 seed with a victory over Miami and a loss by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Patriots (11-4) could benefit from the extra rest. They have many key players banged up and could host in the divisional round at Gillette Stadium instead of going on the road.

The Dolphins (7-8) played the Patriots tough in their first meeting in Week 13. New England escaped Miami with a 23-16 victory.