How awesome is that?
The Bengals did literally everything they could to lose the game. They fumbled in the red zone. They taunted the Broncos to earn a penalty to knock themselves out of field goal range. They ran out of bounds when they needed to bleed the clock.
But Peyton Manning couldn't help but be Peyton Manning.
Three FOUR interceptions including the game-sealing pick-six. He had some good throws throughout the day, but it took some impressive one-handed grabs by Emmanuel Sanders, or some incredible athleticism by Demaryius Thomas to bring down the big throws. In the end, he wasn't able to do enough to salvage the game.
The Bengals have clinched a playoff spot, with the AFC North (and the Patriots final 2015 opponent) decided in Week 17 during the Bengals vs Steelers game. In fact, this forces the Broncos to play their starters next week because a Broncos loss and a Bengals win gives the Bengals a first round bye- and since the Broncos play before the Bengals play on Sunday Night, the Broncos can't sit around.
The Patriots are now in the driver's seat of the AFC. They can play, or not play, their top players against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. They have victories against four of the five other playoff teams (wins against the Broncos, Bengals, Colts, and Chargers; lone exception being the Steelers).
It's a great day to be a Patriots fan.