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Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Sizing up the AFC playoff picture

By Field Yates

While the New England Patriots themselves won't be talking about the playoffs anytime soon as they remain focused on their Week 14 game against the Browns, we on the outside can examine the postseason with a long-range lens.

The Patriots can clinch a playoff berth and/or the division title on Sunday, outlined in the scenarios below.

To clinch the AFC East: Win vs. Browns AND Dolphins loss vs. Steelers

To clinch playoff berth: Win vs. Browns AND Ravens loss vs. Vikings

The Patriots are one of four AFC teams that can clinch a playoff berth this weekend; the Broncos, Chiefs and Colts can as well. Below is a look at the current playoff picture:

Division leaders
1. Denver (10-2)
2. New England (9-3)
3. Indianapolis (8-4)
4. Cincinnati (8-4)

Wild-card leaders
5. Kansas City (9-3)
6. Baltimore (6-6)

Outside looking in
7. Miami (6-6)
8. Tennessee (5-7)
9. Pittsburgh (5-7)
10. San Diego (5-7)
11. New York Jets (5-7)

The top two finishers in the conference receive a first-round bye. The Patriots have a tiebreaker over the Broncos (head-to-head) in the event the teams finish with the same record.