The Broncos needed to defeat the San Diego Chargers in order to claim the #1 seed and homefield advantage. A loss, combined with a Chiefs victory, would drop Denver to the #5 seed and would give the Patriots the #1 seed.
The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 23-17, but the Broncos managed to beat the Chargers with a final score of 27-20 to clinch the top seed. The Patriots have the #2 seed.
Here is the AFC Playoff Picture:
1. Denver Broncos - Homefield advantage
2. New England Patriots - Bye week
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Wild Card: Steelers at Bengals
Wild Card: Chiefs at Texans
Divisional: Lowest WC Seed at Broncos
Divisional: Highest WC Seed at Patriots
Championship: Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed
The Bengals are likely going to be without quarterback Andy Dalton when they play host to the Steelers. Pittsburgh defeated the Dalton-less Bengals in Cincinnati in week 14 with a final score of 33-20. Pittsburgh is extremely capable of beating the Bengals.
A Steelers victory on wild card weekend would guarantee a Pittsburgh-Denver divisional match-up. The Steelers defeated the Broncos 34-27 in Pittsburgh in week 15.
Alternatively, a Bengals victory over the Steelers would pit New England against a possibly Dalton-less Cincinnati squad. The Chiefs defeated the Texans 27-20 back in week 1 of the regular season and also defeated the Broncos 29-13 in week 10.
Barring an "upset" where the Texans defeat the Chiefs, the Broncos will be facing a team that has already defeated them in the regular season.
The Patriots will face the Bengals, Texans, or Chiefs in the divisional round. The Bengals and Chiefs are similar teams in the sense that they're very balanced on all facets and they offer potentially dangerous defenses. The Texans would be the most favorable draw for New England.