Top playoff seeds on the line in Patriots vs. Broncos

Top playoff seeds on the line in Patriots vs. Broncos
November 21, 2013, 11:45 am
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Bill Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff will take a look at their own team during the bye week.

(USA Today Sports)
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When the penalty flag was plucked from the ground at the end of Monday night’s game, the entire AFC playoff picture changed.
 
Instead of the Patriots having a chance from the 1-yard line to put themselves in position for the No. 1 seed in the AFC Sunday night, they now find themselves hanging on to the No. 3 seed with a 7-3 record.
 
A loss to the Broncos (9-1) Sunday and the Patriots will drop to 7-4 and into a tie with the AFC North-leading Bengals (7-4 with a bye this week).
 
Cincinnati, which beat the Patriots head-to-head, would become the third seed and be in position to play the No. 6 seed in the Wild Card round. The difference between winding up the third or fourth seed is massive. 
 
The Patriots would be the fourth seed and would host a Wild Card game against – most likely – Kansas City which is currently 9-1. Remember all division winners get top seed. As it looks now, the AFC West winner is going to get screwed.
 
Whoever doesn’t win the AFC West – Denver or KC - is going to wind up with the very difficult draw for the No. 4. The No. 3 seed will face teams like the Jets, Dolphins, Titans, Raiders or Steelers.
 
Of the Patriots’ three losses, two have been marked by unusual officiating decisions at critical moments. In New England’s overtime loss to the Jets, the Patriots were flagged for pushing a teammate from behind on a 51-yard field goal attempt, a penalty that hadn’t been called before nor has it been called since.
 
You probably remember what happened on Monday.