Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos clinch AFC West title, secure first-round bye in playoffs

It was a historic day in Houston on Sunday for the team not named the Texans. The Denver Broncos came down to sunny Texas and proceeded to have the best day of their season so far. Not only was the day statistically sound, it was historic as well with Peyton Manning throwing his 51st touchdown pass of the season.

But beyond that, the Broncos day could have only gotten better if they walked out of Houston with more than they came in with in terms of the AFC playoff picture. With Kansas City losing to the Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos win not only means that they’ve won the AFC West but they have locked up one of the two first-round bye slots in the AFC playoff picture.

Obviously, Manning’s record is going to get the headlines but Denver has been operating that way all season long. There was some late season drama when it came to the Chiefs gaining ground on the hunt division crown, but that large rush of air you felt at 4pm ET was the collective sigh of relief coming from the Rocky Mountains as Broncos fans can rest easy for the final week of the season.

Home Field Advantage throughout the postseason is not locked up however and the Patriots still control their own fate for the time being. A loss by New England means that the Broncos will have everything they need for a real shot at the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning will again have led a team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

For now though, settling for a first-round bye and another division crown seems like clockwork for Manning.

Tags: AFC Playoffs Denver Broncos

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