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Patriots' loss to Packers is Broncos' playoff gain

Next week's Patriots at Chargers game looms large.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It was another wild NFL Sunday in Week 13. The San Diego Chargers came back to take out the Baltimore Ravens in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers knocked out the New England Patriots in a pair of games with huge AFC playoff implications. Now the AFC playoff standings, as they, um, stand before the Broncos-Chiefs Sunday Night matchup, look like this.

This begs the question - who do Broncos fans root for as the Patriots take on the Chargers next week?

If the Broncos win tonight, you absolutely root for the Chargers to beat the Patriots next week. That would give the Broncos the AFC's #1 seed if they beat the Buffalo Bills next week.

If the Broncos lose tonight, you STILL root for the Chargers. Even though a loss would move the Broncos to 8-4 and a three-way tie with the Chiefs and Chargers atop the AFC West, the Broncos still have a game to play against San Diego this season. If you have confidence in your team in these types of playoff what-if scenarios (and you have to), you count on the Broncos beating San Diego. That means you want the Chargers to do you a favor and knock the Patriots out of the top seed.

Ideally, there's a situation even better than a Chargers win next week: a Patriots-Chargers tie. A half-loss for the Patriots would usurp the top seed to Denver, and a half-loss for the Chargers would remove any potential division tie.

So whether the Broncos win or lose tonight, we're rooting for the Chargers to win - or even better, tie - against the Patriots next week.