Setting AFC playoff picture

December, 16, 2012
12/16/12
4:10
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Earlier in the day, we highlighted a pair of AFC games with playoff implications that related to the Patriots.

The first game, pitting division-leading teams Ravens and Broncos, turned out to be a lopsided affair, as Denver easily handled Baltimore 34-17. That pushes the Broncos' winning streak to nine games (the last time they lost was Week 5 in Foxborough), and for the moment, Denver has the second seed in the AFC.

BroncosTexansThe Ravens, meanwhile, have fallen down to the fourth seed after losing three straight games, and are no lock to make the playoffs. Because of their head-to-head win, the Patriots have the tiebreaker over Denver, and would finish ahead of them if both teams post the same regular-season record.

After falling to the Patriots last Monday night, the Texans bounced back with a division-clinching win over the Colts, 29-17.

That also keeps the Texans atop the AFC standings, and they can clinch a top-two seed with a win next week against visiting Minnesota. Because the Patriots defeated the Texans last Monday night, they would win the top AFC seed if the two teams finish with the best records in the AFC.

Here's an updated look at the AFC playoffs standings:

Division leaders
1. Houston (12-2, clinched AFC South)
2. Denver (11-3, clinched AFC West)
3. New England (10-3, clinched AFC East)
4. Baltimore (9-5, first in AFC North)

Wild cards
5. Indianapolis (9-5)
6. Cincinnati (8-6)

In the mix
7. Pittsburgh (7-7)
8. New York Jets (6-7, play at Tennessee on Monday night)
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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