Patriots edge closer to bye with Texans loss

616310.jpg

Patriots edge closer to bye with Texans loss

A thrilling and penalty-aided final drive led by Dan Orlovsky led the Colts past Houston Thursday night and brought the New England Patriots even closer to a first-round bye. The 19-16 win was the second loss in a row for the Texans, who now drop to 10-5. The Patriots, who are currently 11-3, can split their final two games, finish at 12-4 and secure a first-round bye even if the Steelers and Ravens win their last two and finish at 12-4 as well. The reason? The Ravens will win the AFC North thanks to their sweep of the Steelers this season. So even though the Steelers have a head-to-head win over New England this season, the Steelers will be a Wild Card. That would mean the Patriots will be off until January 8 after their season finale. If the Patriots take care of business against Miami this weekend, the bye is secured and still left to be determined would be the No. 1 seed in Week 17. A Patriots win in the finale against Buffalo would take care of all machinations and give them home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. A split would cause tiebreakers between the Patriots and Ravens to kick in to determine the No. 1 seed. If the Patriots lose twice, they'll be 11-5 and -- while possibly still able to get the bye -- more likely will have to play in the first round depending on what the other teams do. But what's more fascinating to watch is the seeming meltdown going on among the AFC hierarchy as the Steelers, Ravens and Texans are now 0-4 since last Sunday.

TOUR DE FRANCE: British cyclist Chris Froome wins fourth title

tour_de_france-2017-chris-froome.jpg

TOUR DE FRANCE: British cyclist Chris Froome wins fourth title

PARIS — Riding a bright yellow bike to match his shiny leader's jersey, defending champion Chris Froome won his fourth and most challenging Tour de France title on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Kenyan-born British rider finished 54 seconds ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran overall, the smallest margin of his wins. This was the third straight win for the Team Sky rider. His first in 2013 came the year after former teammate Bradley Wiggins sparked off a mini-era of British dominance.

Frenchman Romain Bardet, runner-up last year, placed 2 minutes, 20 seconds behind in third place, denying Spaniard Mikel Landa — Froome's teammate — a podium spot by just one second. Italian Fabio Aru finished fifth.

As per tradition, the 21st stage was reserved for sprinters and mostly a procession for Froome and the other overall leaders. Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won the final stage.

© 2017 by The Associated Press.