The Houston Texans finished the season at 12-4 after losing to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, but the team that has led the conference all season long has held the door open for the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots to snatch home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the late afternoon games.
The Broncos are 12-3, so, if they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Denver — which, let's be honest, now that there's something on the line, is an enormous probability — they will be 13-3 and own the best record in the AFC, thus ensuring home-field advantage in one of the loudest stadiums in the league, a mile above sea level, with a Super Bowl-winning quarterback at the controls. This is not a good scenario for the rest of the AFC.
If something crazy happens and the Chiefs win, the Texans own the tiebreaker over the Broncos, so Peyton Manning and Co. will have to play next week.
The New England Patriots are 11-4 and hosting the Miami Dolphins, so chances are they will win as well. If they do, and the Broncos win, they will be the second seed and the Texans will be third, thus having to play in the first round. If they lose, by virtue of the Ravens' loss, they will be the third seed.
Bottom line: the Texans really would have liked to have beaten the Colts.
The Ravens are the fourth seed, official as soon as they lost to the Bengals, and the Colts, 11-5 after thumping the Texans are the fifth seed that will be playing in Baltimore, their old haunt, next week. The Bengals, at 10-6, will be playing whoever comes up short among the Broncos, Patriots and Texans.