Winning two of your remaining games shouldn't be difficult for a 10-3 team. Of course, winning two of your last four for a 10-2 team sounds a heck of a lot easier. After the Broncos went up 12-0 to the Oakland Raiders, they fell to their AFC West foe 12-15, making one thing ever-clear: nothing in the NFL is certain.
Such is the NFL in 2015: week to week, as it is every year. Following Week 13, with the Patriots losing, the Broncos were riding a Mile High. After Week 14, with the Broncos losing, panic has set in. No longer is Broncos Country's focus on winning the #1 seed; now the focus is on simply clinching the AFC West.
The Chiefs have won seven straight and have a cakewalk of a remaining schedule (at Ravens, vs. Browns, vs. Raiders), so it's imperative that the Broncos win two more games to reach 12 wins on the season and clinch the AFC West. In the meantime, they've lost the first round bye for which they were pencilled-in a week ago. If the playoffs started today, the Broncos would be the #3 seed.
AFC Playoff Standings
1. New England Patriots (11-2, 8-1 AFC)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-3, 8-2 AFC)
3. Denver Broncos (10-3, 6-3 AFC)
4. Indianapolis Colts (6-7, 4-5 AFC, head-to-head win over HOU)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5, 7-2 AFC)
6. New York Jets (8-5, 6-4 AFC)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5, 5-4 AFC)
8. Oakland Raiders (6-7, 6-4 AFC)
9. Buffalo Bills (6-7, 6-5 AFC)
10. Houston Texans (6-7, 4-5 AFC)
11. Miami Dolphins (5-7, 3-6 AFC)
How the Broncos can win the AFC West
The Broncos can clinch the AFC West with two wins OR a win and a Chiefs loss, in any games down the stretch. Denver's losses to Kansas City and Oakland severely hurt them in tiebreaking scenarios; they need to finish with a better record than KC straight up, or they could lose the West.
How the Broncos can clinch a playoff bye
Technically, if the Broncos beat the Bengals, they can win either other game (at Steelers, vs. Chargers) and lock up the #2 seed. With Andy Dalton hurt, Denver's chances at beating Cincinnati improve. But they have a tough road trip to Pittsburgh to make in the meantime.
How the Broncos can clinch the #1 seed
Win out and hope the New England Patriots lose another game. The Broncos no longer control their playoff destiny.
Still, one thing at a time. Go win two games and win the division, Denver. Then worry about seeding.