I was going through this in the comments and thought I'd make a fan post out of it. Are there any cases where Oakland can get the tiebreaker against us? It turns out there are, and it means there is one must-win game for Denver to keep that from happening. Guess who it is!
Here's the rundown:
If Denver and Oakland are both 7-9. In this case, Denver would have a 3-3 division record, and Oakland would have a 2-4 division record. Denver would be the division champs.
If Denver and Oakland are both 8-8. In this case, Denver is division champs in all cases. If we beat Kansas City, our division record would be 4-2, and Oakland could only manage one more division win for 3-3. If we lose to Kansas City, Oakland's victory would still have to come from a division game. And this is where it comes down to the second tiebreaker, common opponents.
The way you look at this is the common opponents outside of the division (the assumption being, we'd already be tied in division games). We have plenty of common opponents with Oakland. Turns out we both beat NYJ and MIN, so we're tied there. In addition, we lost to DET and GB, and Oakland lost to NE and BUF. Oakland did beat CHI, and we still have to play them. But the big deal is that we beat Miami, and Oakland lost to them. This means we are currently one up on Oakland.
If we're 8-8 by losing to Kansas City, then it means that one of our victories would come against Chicago, New England, or Buffalo, which means we'd be assured of maintaining our common opponents edge over Oakland. So no matter what, Denver holds the 8-8 tiebreaker over Oakland.
If Denver and Oakland are both 9-7. Woo-hoo! This gets a little more complicated. There is one case here where Oakland could have the tiebreaker, and that's if they sweep their final two division games, while we lose to Kansas City. In that case, no matter who our other win is against, Oakland would have a 4-2 division record, while we'd have a 3-3 division record. Oakland would be the division champions.
However, in all other cases, we'd be division champs. If we tie in division record with us beating Kansas City, then it means Oakland swept the last two and lost to GB and DET. Our other victory would ensure we'd remain one game up on Oakland in common opponents, and we'd win the division. If we tie in division record with us losing to Kansas City, then it means Oakland split the final two division games, and beat one of DET or GB. This means they'd gain one game on us since we lost to both of those teams. However, we'd have two victories among CHI, NE, and BUF, which would ensure that we'd still end up having the common opponents tiebreaker, and would win the division. So if we're both 9-7, the only way Oakland gets the tiebreakers is if they sweep their last two games and we lose to Kansas City.
If Denver and Oakland are both 10-6. This is again about the final game. If we lose to Kansas City and Oakland sweeps the last two division games, they win from a better division record. If we tie in division record with us beating Kansas City, then it means that Oakland swept their final two games and also beat either DET or GB, but not both. But we will have beaten two of CHI, NE, and BUF, and would be assured of gaining at least one game right back on Oakland, so we'd win the common opponents tiebreaker. If we tie in division record with us losing to Kansas City, then it means we'd have won our other three games, and we'd still be ahead of Oakland on common opponents no matter what. So if we're both 10-6, then the only way Oakland gets the tiebreakers is again if they sweep their last two games and we lose to Kansas City.
Finally, if Denver and Oakland are both 11-5. If this happens, we're division champs. We'd have a tied division record, but we'd win from common opponents. Oakland will have beaten DET and GB when we lost to them, but we'll have beaten NE and BUF when Oakland lost to them. On top of that, we'll have beaten Miami when Oakland lost to them last week, and that would be the deciding factor.
So what's the nutshell here? We have the tiebreaker against Oakland, but it's only certain if we beat Kansas City. It'll be hard to get a better record than Oakland. New England is tough, and Buffalo is likely tougher than Minnesota. It won't matter so much if Oakland loses to Green Bay, and odds are Oakland really will win their last two division games, so we don't have the inside track as much as we think. Don't look past Kansas City!!!!