Three hours after dispatching the New York Jets on Sunday, the New England Patriots received some additional help from the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos rallied to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17 in the late-afternoon time slot, snapping the Steelers’ six-game winning streak and allowing the Patriots to leapfrog them in the AFC standings.
New England, which scored 14 unanswered points in the final 17 minutes to beat the Jets 27-13 at MetLife Stadium, now owns the conference’s second-best record at 8-3, one game behind the idle Kansas City Chiefs.
The Steelers’ loss dropped them to 7-3-1 and into to fourth place behind the 7-3 Houston Texans, who host the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.
The top two teams in each conference receive first-round playoff byes, with the top finishers also garnering home-field advantage. The Patriots have not played on wild-card weekend since 2009.
The Patriots, Steelers and Chiefs each have five games remaining in the regular season. Pittsburgh hosts New England in Week 15 in a game that could determine which squad earns free passage to the divisional round.
In the event of a tie in the standings, the Patriots would own the tiebreaker over the Chiefs or Texans after defeating both earlier this season.
New England also boasts a three-game lead atop the AFC East — a division it has won each year since 2009 — following the Miami Dolphins’ 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
The Patriots will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Gillette Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images