Texans loss and how it affects Pats

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
7:00
AM ET
The Houston Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night, dropping them to 10-5. So this is how the top of the AFC playoff picture currently looks:

1. Patriots -- 11-3
2. Ravens -- 10-4
3. Texans -- 10-5
4. Broncos -- 8-6
5. Steelers -- 10-4
6. Jets -- 8-6

The Houston loss makes New England's path to both a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed a little easier. Here is what the Patriots can clinch this weekend:

New England clinches a first-round bye:
1) By beating or tying the Dolphins

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs:
1) NE win + PIT loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

ESPN.com's "Playoff Machine" helps dissect what it means for other teams in the playoff race.

Perhaps even more interesting than that is what the Texans' loss means for the Colts and their chances to draft quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1 overall. Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz's writes on that topic (link here).

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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