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Water Cooler Quarterbacks: 2nd Place in the AFC West

More football talk from a group of football fans.

Doug Pensinger

It was said not long ago in another Water Cooler Quarterbacks column but bears repeating here: What a great time to be a Broncos fan. It has been a total delight talking football with a group of co-workers who all root for their own teams but are also on a "Manning-watch" to see just how far he can lead the 2013 Broncos.

It is interesting that, as Denver Broncos Vice President of Public Relations Jim Saccomano has pointed out, the Broncos have become something of a "national" team. Saccomano recently tweeted the following:

The 12 most watched TV shows of fall are all NFL games, and four of those most highly rated games/shows are Broncos games!!

. . . Huge interest by all networks in Broncos . . .

. . . at this moment in time, Broncos best thought of as a national team, that plays it games in Denver . . . crazy concept

Why wouldn't everyone be interested in the Broncos. It seems like Manning is setting a new record each week. He's on a pace to throw for over 5800 yards and 59 touchdowns. The "four horsemen" (D. Thomas, Decker, Welker and J. Thomas) are all on a pace to record over 1000 receiving yards -- which would be the first time NFL history that a receiving quartet has managed this -- and 56 touchdowns. Moreno is on a pace to record nearly 1000 rushing yards (current pace is 995 yards) with 19 touchdowns -- and this is in spite of sharing snaps with Hillman and Ball.

Yes, it is an exciting time to be a Broncos' fan.

Yet, there is one piece of news that should be very sobering, some might even say humbling when we look at what Denver has accomplished so far in the 2013 NFL season.

If the 2013 regular season were to have ended following last night's Indianapolis-San Diego match up on Monday Night Football, the Broncos would be standing in 2nd place in the AFC West and have to enter the playoffs as a wild card.

Yes, you read that right, but let me repeat it anyway: Denver is currently in 2nd place in the AFC West.

How can this be, you might ask?

Both Kansas City and Denver are 6-0-0. This requires us to move into the NFL's tiebreaking rules. There are twelve different tiebreakers when two teams within a division have the same won-loss-tie record. Let's look at them step-by-step.

#1 - Head-to-Head competition

This looks to see who has the best won-lost-tied percentage in games played between the two clubs.

Denver and Kansas City have not yet played in 2013 -- they will meet on November 17 and again on December 1.

Therefore, we move to tie breaker #2.

#2 - Divisional Record

This looks to see who has the best won-lost-tied percentage in games played against divisional opponents.

Denver beat Oakland 37-21 in their only divisional game to-date. Kansas City also beat Oakland (24-7) in their own game within the division. Both teams are 1-0-0 in the division.

Move to #3.

#3 - Common Games

This asks which team has the better win-lost-tied percentage against opponents that have played both the teams.

This is a rather pointless step given that both Denver and Kansas City are undefeated -- this means that they have both beaten any team that both of them have played. Just for fun though, let's remember those teams:

Both teams have beaten the New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia, Dallas and Jacksonville. They are both 5-0-0 with a winning percentage of 1.000

Move to #4.

#4 - Conference Games

This determines which team has the better won-lost-tied percentage against opponents within the conference -- in this case, the AFC.

Like #3, this step is meaningless at this point since both the Broncos and Chiefs are undefeated. They have each played three games against AFC opponents -- Denver (Baltimore, Oakland, Jacksonville), Kansas City (Jacksonville, Tennessee, Oakland) -- and have won each of those games. Their records are 3-0-0 with a winning percentage of 1.000.

Move to #5.

#5 - Strength of Victory

This is the won-lost-tied percentage of the teams that the tied teams have beaten. It does not include the record of any team that has beaten or tied the teams in question.

In the case of Denver and Kansas City this will include the winning percentage of all of their opponents, since the two teams are undefeated. The two teams have played five of the same teams (New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia, Dallas, Jacksonville). The non-common teams are Baltimore (Denver) and Tennessee (Kansas City). When added up, both teams opponents are 11-25, a winning percentage of .306.

Move to #6.

#6 - Strength of Schedule

This is very similar to #5. The difference is that this adds in teams which might have beaten or tied the teams in question.

In the case of two undefeated teams, this step is identical to #5. So, for Kansas City and Denver, nothing changes at this step.

Move to #7.

#7 - Combined Rankings within the Conference in Points Scored and Points Allowed.

This step looks at the teams' combined relative rankings within their conference in points scored and points allowed.

The method is simple. The teams in the conference are sorted from 1 to 16 in each category. A point total is assigned -- 1st place gets 1 point, 2nd place gets 2 points, etc. The points from the two rankings are added together to give a combined score. The team with the lower combined score wins the tie breaker.

Here's how this falls out for Denver. The Broncos are 1st in points scored (265), which gives them 1 point. They are 14th in points allowed (158), which gives them 14 points. Their combined total is 15 points.

Kansas City, on the other hand, is 2nd in points scored (152), which gives the Chiefs 2 points. They are 1st in points allowed (65), which gives 1 point. Their combined total is 3 points.

Lowest score wins. Thus the Chiefs win the tiebreaker.

There are a few other tiebreakers, had they been necessary:

8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

9. Best net points in common games.

10. Best net points in all games.

11. Best net touchdowns in all games.

12. Coin toss.

Since none of these steps apply in this case, we will not spend any more time on them.

The thought this curious situation evoked among the Water Cooler Quarterbacks was the insight that when Manning, Head Coach John Fox or anyone else on the Broncos talk about having work that needs to be done, things that need to be fixed, improvements that need to be made, they are not simply engaging in politically correct speech. They truly do see things that need to be addressed if the Broncos want to reach their ultimate goal: a Super Bowl victory.

It is quite probable that the rest of the league is fearful that the Broncos will figure out how to fix those issues.

The Water Cooler Quarterbacks send out a message of "Good Luck!" for this weekend . . . unless you're playing the Broncos . . . just kidding. Good luck everyone.

Go Broncos!!!!!