Tonight's Monday Night Football game could hold the fate of the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts in the balance. While J.J. Watt and company can still control their own destiny next week by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium in front of a hometown crowd, I'd prefer they have the AFC South division championship in the bag so they can rest some starters.
Texans fans need to pull for the Bengals to win tonight!
Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
The Bengals are the AFC North Division Champions thanks to the Baltimore Ravens defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17 yesterday. If the Bengals win tonight, they secure a first-round bye in the playoffs as the projected 2nd-seed for the AFC. More importantly, your Houston Texans win the AFC South title as well, thanks to tie-breaking scenarios against the Indianapolis Colts.
Denver Broncos (10-4)
The Broncos could wind up with home-field advantage or miss the playoffs entirely this year. They are projected to be the 3rd-seed in the AFC, but that could all change if they lose tonight to the Bengals. If they beat the Bengals, they take the first-round bye away from Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh's 20-17 loss at Baltimore opened the door for the Broncos to seal their fifth consecutive postseason appearance with a win against the Bengals (11-3). Cincinnati also clinched the AFC North crown because of the Steelers' defeat.
Because of the Steelers' setback, a win or a tie in either of the Broncos' final two regular-season games would get them in the playoffs regardless of any other result.
However, they need to defeat the Bengals to maintain control of their outcome in the AFC West and the race for a first-round bye.
Two Broncos wins will give them the AFC West crown and no worse than the No. 2 seed. A win and a tie will give the Broncos the division, but would not be enough to take the first-round bye if the Bengals beat the Ravens next Sunday.
The Patriots' 26-20 loss to the Jets also keeps the Broncos in play for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Broncos can get home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs with wins in their final two regular-season games, combined with a Patriots loss at Miami next week.
Because of tiebreaker advantages over the Steelers and Broncos, the 10-5 Chiefs have already clinched a playoff spot. Their 17-13 win over Cleveland, along with the Steelers' loss, puts them in the postseason for the second time in the last three years.
That's your preview for tonight's game. The comments section is open, and the usual rules apply.
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