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Broncos, Giants win divisions, Patriots top AFC
Question of the Day
Pittsburgh (12-4) is the other wild card, but lost both games to the Ravens this year to finish second in the division. The Steelers, who beat Cleveland 13-9, will be at Denver next Sunday.
“Now is the time to go out and play our best football,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who went 23 of 40 for 221 yards on his gimpy left ankle. “If you are a great team, you have to win on the road. We’d like to get it together, starting next week. We have not been able to put it all together yet this year, whether because of injury, weather, a lot of factors.”
By winning every game in the second half of the season, the Patriots own home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. By losing their last three games, the New York Jets won’t be going to a third straight conference title game.
The Patriots (13-3) earned the right to stay at home throughout the AFC playoffs after a 49-21 victory over Buffalo, which led 21-0 after the first quarter. It should be comforting to the Patriots, except that they have lost their last two home playoff games, and their last three postseason games overall.
“It depends on how we play,” three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said. “It’s great playing at home. It’s great to have a bye. But I think we have to concentrate here this week on what we need to do to play our best football in a couple weeks.”
The Jets (8-8) finished a late-season collapse with a 19-17 loss at Miami to fall out of contention. They dropped their final three games after taking control of the AFC’s final wild-card spot.
“We played well in spurts this season, but we weren’t consistent enough,” said quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was among the most inconsistent Jets. “You have to ask yourself the tough questions and clean things up for next season.
“It doesn’t feel good now, but we’ll come back and be just fine.”
San Francisco (13-3) is just fine thanks to a turnaround season. Under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers will be the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind Green Bay (15-1) after a 34-27 win at St. Louis.
“I’ll sit back and watch the games. Let the games begin,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “My mind is about to go on a whole new phase, that’s the way I see it. We’ve just got to keep growing, keep trucking.”
New Orleans (13-3) is seeded third after a 45-17 win over Carolina.
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