With an ugly win over AFC East division rival New York Jets and the Denver Broncos losing to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, the New England Patriots have earned the top seed in the AFC for the 2014 playoffs.
Without the Bengals pulling off the win against the Broncos, the final game of the season for the Patriots against the Buffalo Bills would have been a must win to ensure the AFC road to the Super Bowl goes through New England. Week 17 has become a moot point for Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots.
This will be the fifth time New England has earned the top seed in the AFC since Bill Belichick has been the head coach and the first time doing so since the 2011 season. It’s a favorable position to be in as the Patriots are 12-3 in the playoffs at Gillette Stadium since 2001. During that time, New England has won Super Bowls in 2001, 2003 and 2004 while also losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl twice in 2007 and 2011.