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AFC playoff picture and week 16 clinching scenarios: Patriots can earn homefield advantage

The Patriots are atop the AFC with room to spare.

The New England Patriots remained a step ahead of the AFC with a 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. The Patriots are the #1 seed and they’ve purged some Mile High Demons, while the Broncos are all the way down in 9th place in the conference.

The Patriots have a one game lead over the Oakland Raiders, who clinched a playoff berth this week with a come-from-behind 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers. The Miami Dolphins are sitting as the #6 seed, but they might have to win out in order to retain their playoff position since there are three teams just one game back in the standings.

The Patriots can clinch homefield advantage in week 16 with a win and a Raiders loss. A win would guarantee 13 wins for the Patriots, while a Raiders loss would give Oakland 4 losses, preventing them from matching the Patriots record. The Chiefs have 4 losses and the Patriots hold the common games tiebreaker, so Kansas City is eliminated from homefield advantage.

The Patriots host the Jets in week 16 and play the Dolphins in Miami in week 17. The Chiefs host the Broncos, then travel to face the Chargers. The Raiders host a Colts team that just put up 34 points on a then-1st ranked Vikings defense, and travel to face the Broncos.

The Patriots have the easiest path in the AFC and could be able to rest their starters in the season finale against the Dolphins.

  1. (12-2) New England Patriots - clinched first round bye, AFC East
  2. (11-3) Oakland Raiders - clinched playoff berth
  3. (9-5) Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. (8-6) Houston Texans
  5. (10-4) Kansas City Chiefs
  6. (9-5) Miami Dolphins

In the hunt: (8-6) Ravens, (8-6) Titans, (8-6) Broncos, (7-7) Colts, (7-7 Bills)