The New England Patriots are on track to play in the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Patriots dropped to the No. 3 seed with their 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.

The Pats entered Week 15 as the No. 2 seed, but with a 9-5 record they now sit one game behind the Houston Texans (10-4) for the No. 2 seed. New England does, however, own the tiebreaker over Houston as a result of its Week 1 win.

The last season during which the Patriots lost five or more games also was 2009. They went 10-6, hosted a home playoff game on Wild Card Weekend and were soundly beaten 33-14 by the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots still are the favorites to win the AFC East. They can clinch the division title with a Week 16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. 

Here are the remaining schedules for the Patriots and Texans.

PATRIOTS: vs. Bills, vs. Jets
TEXANS: at Eagles, vs. Jaguars

Here's how the AFC playoff picture looks entering "Sunday Night Football" on NBC:

*1. Chiefs 11-3
2. Texans 10-4
3. Patriots 9-5
4. Steelers 8-5-1
*5. Chargers 11-3
6. Ravens 8-6
*Clinched postseason berth

Colts 8-6
Titans 8-6
Dolphins 7-7
Browns 6-7-1

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