The Patriots will head into the final week of the season with a chance to win one of two first-round byes, and still are alive for the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The Patriots survived an ugly performance in Jacksonville and beat the Jaguars, 23-16, to improve to 11-4 on the season. The Texans fell to 12-3 with a home loss to the surging 9-6 Vikings. The Broncos easily handled the Browns in Denver to match Houston at 12-3.
As a result, the Patriots can win the No. 1 seed next week with a win over the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, a Denver loss at home to Kansas City and a Texans loss to the Colts in Indianapolis. That would give the Patriots, Broncos and Texans all records of 12-4 record, and the Patriots beat both teams in their head-to-head meetings.
The Patriots can still win a first-round bye if they beat Miami, and the Broncos or Texans lose, giving the Patriots the No. 2 seed. If the Patriots lose, they will not have a first-round bye and will be playing the weekend of Jan. 5-6. The Patriots would finish No. 3 if they beat Miami and Houston and Denver both win next week. The Patriots will also finish No. 3 if they lose and the Ravens lose in Cincinnati in Week 17. If the Ravens and Patriots finish tied at 11-5, the Ravens will be the No. 3 seed and the Patriots No. 4 based on Baltimore's 31-30 win on Sept. 23.
Cincinnati and Indianapolis both won on the road Sunday, clinching the final two playoff spots in the AFC. Both the Bengals and Colts will be wild cards as the Ravens clinched the AFC North with a win over the Giants in Baltimore. The Colts will enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed while the Bengals will be the No. 6 seed based on common games.
Here are the AFC playoff seedings after Sunday's games:
1. Texans (12-3, AFC South champs, beat Broncos head-to-head)
2. Broncos (12-3, AFC West champs, lost to Texans head-to-head)
3. Patriots (11-4, AFC East champs)
4. Ravens (10-5, AFC North champs)
5. Colts (10-5, wild card No. 1)
6. Bengals (9-6, wild card No. 2)
Greg and Chris talk with Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston in hour 2 of NFL Sunday to discuss a variety of offseason happenings with the Pats and throughout the league. Greg and Chris also get into the NFL Draft and where Mariota and Winston will go.
Mike Reiss calls the guys to talk about the offseason news for the Pats. He talks about the Pats/Jets tampoering fiasco, free agency, where he sees Ridley and Connolly ending up, if the Patriots would be interested in Reggie Wayne and more.
In the first hour of the show, Greg and Chris discuss the news coming out of the owners' meetings this week and rule changes. Belichick's blow-up over the league not wanting to spend on endzone cameras was well documented and the guys react. They also talk about the Jets ridiculous tampering charges, free agents still lingering out there, where Stevan Ridley will land and the RB position in New England. Dickerson and Price briefly discuss the adventures of Tom Brady before being joined by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia to talk all things Pats in the offseason.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Joe and Alex talked with the Sox AGM about the state of the team as Opening Day approaches.
Mut, Tomase, and Bradford kick things off talking about Shane Victorino taking offense to people reading into some comments he made about trading for Cole Hamels. They also discuss Blake Swihart and how soon he could be up if Christian Vazquez starts the season on the DL.
Joe Kelly joined the Hot Stove show where he talked about being ready for his next spring training start after a biceps ailment forced him out of his last outing, he talks about his NCAA brackets and how teammate Wade Miley has a perfect bracket still.
Peter Chiarelli joined the Sunday Skate crew to talk about the Bruins playoff push heading into the final handful of games of the regular season. Chiarelli talked about avoiding some of the overly negative feedback he gets while realizing that the team does have real issues. He discusses what went down at the trade deadline and if he was happy with the outcome, Lucic having a down year and underperforming, the salary cap and if he considers it as big of an issue as it's been made out to be and what the future holds for the team.
It's a big hour #2 for the Sunday Skate dudes - they talk about the B's defenseman and what the future looks like at that position, with both moves the team can make and younger guys in the AHL. They also get into the Bruins philosophy on bringing guys up and sending them back down and how players deal with that. Finally, the boys are joined by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss EVERYTHING.
The Sunday Skate crew gets the show going discussing the Bruins big, impressive victory over the NY Rangers yesterday. What can you take from that game? According to LB - Lyndon Byers - who called the guys from the road, not a lot. LB drops a dime on what was going on with the Rangers yesterday. DJ and Joe discuss Claude's lines and groupings and the importance of Ryan Spooner. They also get into Lucic, his contributions this year and if he can turn things around.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed the controversial Indiana law.
The guys opened the show by discussing the Presidents visit yesterday.
Michael Holley comes in for the crossover, and continues the discussion with Tim over what will happen if the Patriots face any type of punishment for the deflated footballs in the AFCCG.
With the Wells report seemingly wrapping up (we hope), Tim and Lou got to talking about possible fines and punishments the Patriots must face. It's possible that the Patriots will face a small fine, but should they take that laying down? The conversation brings out a little passion from BOTH sides.
Jackie Mac talks about the Celtics win over the Hornets last night and their chances of making the playoffs.
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton discuss Robert Kraft's testimony and the Hernandez trial overall as it continues to unfold.
We wrap up the day with the best in sound that you may have missed from throughout the day.
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss 'Pasta' and his solid rookie year, and make a few statistical comparisons.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots
Mikey, Mut, and Lucy are talking about all things New England sports, the Red Sox spring training, more Darrelle Revis and Jets talk, and some Bruins mixed in.
Will Noonan joins Chris in the studio to review Wrestlemania and Raw.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Kirk's massage and crap all over Sausage.
Ben and Adam finish the odyssey that is the history of Wrestlemania. Wrestlemanias 21-30 are discussed and analyzed.
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show
We listen in on Adam Shefter's deflategate report on NFL Live on ESPN, and discuss when we can expect this whole mess to come to a head.More from this show