The New England Patriots now control their destiny in the AFC playoff picture

"Santa the Patriot" brought the Patriots a Broncos loss as an early gift. - David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos lost to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night, 27-20, which means the New England Patriots now control their own destiny in the AFC playoff picture.

If the Patriots win out, they will own the number one seed in the AFC. In order to do that, they must they must go on the road to defeat the Dolphins and Ravens, before returning home for a match against the Bills. It will not be easy for the Patriots, as all three teams are formidable opponents, but for the first time this year, New England will be in the driver's seat in the AFC if they win on Sunday.

Here are the remaining schedules for all three teams:

Week New England Patriots (10-3) Denver Broncos (11-3) Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
15 at Miami Dolphins Loss vs. San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
16 at Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
17 vs. Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

If the Patriots finish with the same record as the Chiefs or Broncos, they would win both tiebreakers. New England defeated Denver earlier this year, so they are favored in the head-to-head tiebreaker, and they have a better record in the AFC than Kansas City, so they win the conference tiebreaker. Therefore, even if all three teams finished 13-3, the Patriots would still own the top seed in the AFC.

There are no guarantees that they accomplish that with this difficult schedule, but if you ask me, the Patriots are in good shape going forward. New England tends to play well against teams in their division, and it sure helps they have those two guys named Brady and Belichick.

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