Despite losing to the Raiders, 17-13, on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the Broncos still have a sliver of hope to snap its five-year postseason slump and make the playoffs as the No. 3 wild-card in the AFC. It’s an incredibly slim shot, but a shot nonetheless.
Here’s a look at what needs to happen for the Broncos to make the playoffs:
1. Win out
The Broncos need to win their final two games (Week 17 on the road against the Chargers and Week 18 at home against the Chiefs).
2. Get help — and plenty of it
A lot of things need to align for the Broncos to see the postseason. On top of winning out, Denver has to leap-frog six other teams in order to climb into the No. 3 wild-card slot. A win on Sunday over the Chargers eliminates Denver’s division rival from playoff contention.
Note: If either the Colts or Patriots (both 9-6 and sitting in the top two wild-card spots) finish 9-8, they already hold the conference record tiebreaker over the Broncos. As do the 9-6 Bills and Bengals, who are atop their respective divisions.
Dolphins cannot win any games.
Miami (8-7) currently holds the No. 3 wild-card spot. If the Dolphins and the Broncos tie at 9-7, Miami holds the tiebreaker over Denver with a better conference record (6-6 to 5-7). (Remaining games: at Titans, vs. Patriots)
Ravens cannot win any games.
Baltimore (8-7) holds the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Broncos, 23-7, in Week 4. (Remaining games: vs. Rams, vs. Steelers)
Raiders cannot win two games.
Las Vegas (7-8) holds the tiebreaker over Denver after completing the season sweep of the Broncos on Sunday. (Remaining games: at Colts, vs. Chargers)
Steelers cannot finish 8-7-2 or better.
Pittsburgh (7-7-1) holds the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Broncos, 27-19, in Week 5. (Remaining games: vs. Browns, at Ravens)
Browns cannot win two games.
Cleveland (7-8) holds the head-to-head tiebreaking after beating the Broncos, 17-14, in Week 7. (Remaining games: at Steelers, vs. Bengals)
If all of this happens, the AFC playoff picture should looking something like this:
No. 1 seed: Either Chiefs or Titans.
No. 2 seed: Either Chiefs or Titans.
No. 3 seed: Either Bengals, Bills or Patriots.
No. 4 seed: Either Bengals, Bills or Patriots.
No. 5 seed: Either Bills, Patriots or Colts.
No. 6 seed: Either Bills, Patriots or Colts.
No. 7 seed: Broncos.
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