Feel free to make plans Jan. 9-10, New England Patriots fans.
The Patriots clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Denver Broncos 34-27, and after New England beat the Tennessee Titans 33-16. The Patriots will earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs as long as they win one of their final two matchups against the New York Jets in Week 16 and the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
The Patriots currently are the top team in the AFC with a 12-2 record. The Broncos are 10-4 but beat the Patriots, so they hold a tiebreaker over New England. The Bengals are 11-3 after beating the Oakland Raiders, but the Patriots hold the tiebreaker in common games against the Steelers, Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans. The Patriots are 4-1 in those games, while the Bengals currently are 2-2.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via iDec 20, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports