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Patriots set sights on AFC’s top playoff seed

New England made a statement Monday night, not Houston

FOXBOROUGH — If the Patriots had any interest in earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs, beating the Texans Monday night was mandatory.

Houston came in with a two-game lead over New England, so a victory would have produced a three-game cushion with three games to play, plus Houston would have owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss would have left the Patriots fighting for a first-round bye, but without the guarantee of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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