Patriots defensive end Andre Carter will need surgery after being carted off the field in Denver on the final play of the first quarter Sunday, according to a report from ESPN's Josina Anderson. According to Anderson, on her twitter page, Carter's agent Carl Poston said, "looks like Andre has a quad-related injury that will require surgery."

The Patriots improved to 11-3 with their 41-23 victory over the Broncos on Sunday, in the process winning the AFC East title for the ninth time in 11 seasons. In doing so, coach Bill Belichick said that the Patriots had met a meaningful bar that was set entering the year. 

"That’s one of our goals at the start of the season, to meet the challenge of our division. Our players have done that, 6-2 on the road. They’ve done a good job," Belichick told reporters. "They’ve met a lot of challenges. This was a big one."

Aaron Hernandez caught nine Tom Brady passes for a career-high 129 yards receiving and a touchdown as the Patriots clinched their third straight AFC East and their ninth division title in 11 years with a 41-23 win over Tim Tebow and the Broncos at Sports Authority Field in Denver. The division title ensures the Patriots of opening the playoffs at home.

The Packers remain in pursuit of a second straight Super Bowl, but regardless of whether they hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year, they won't be able to claim a perfect season.

Green Bay suffered a stunning 19-14 upset at the hands of the 6-8 Chiefs, who were playing under interim coach Romeo Crennel. The loss dropped the Packers to 13-1, with the defeat being the first suffered by the reigning champions since they lost to the Patriots last December.

In a potentially devastating blow to an already overwhelmed Patriots defense, Andre Carter had to be carted off after injuring his left knee on the final play of the first quarter in Denver. The team confirmed moments later it was a knee injury and that he would not return. 

The Patriots announced before Sunday's game that offensive lineman Nick McDonald and third quarterback Ryan Mallett will be the final two inactives for the Patriots today against the Broncos. 

McDonald, a second-year player out of Grand Valley State, served as a back-up center the last two weeks. Dan Connolly returns to starting center from a strained groin that forced him to sit the last three games. Ryan Wendell (calf) is also available to play center, as he did in the second half last week against Washington. 

The Patriots announced Saturday afternoon that five players have been downgraded to out for Sunday's game against the Broncos in Denver: safety Patrick Chung, running back Shane Vereen, linebacker Brandon Spikes, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and wide receiver Deion Branch.

Here are the 10 matchups we’ll be looking for in Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Broncos.



The Patriots have signed linebacker Jerod Mayo to a five-year contract extension, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The 25-year-old Mayo, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft, has been a defensive mainstay since he first arrived in Foxboro, and had his best season last year when he registered a career-best 175 tackles. The performance was good enough to land him an All-Pro berth and a spot in the Pro Bowl. He was recently named the 62nd best player in the game in an NFL Network countdown of the Top 100 players in the game, a list voted on by the players.

Patriots safety Patrick Chung did not travel with the rest of his team to Denver for Sunday's game against the Broncos. Instead, he was sitting courtside at the Celtics scrimmage at TD Garden on Friday evening.

Chung, who did not practice this week, was listed officially as "doubtful" for Sunday's game. The third-year safety has been limited to seven games this year; he has not played in a game since Nov. 6 due to a foot injury. He has 55 tackles (36 solo), an interception and a sack this season.