Thank goodness the first two “What ifs” never played out.
For the next scenario in SBNation’s NFL “What ifs” Week, let’s go in a different direction. Adam Malnati and I went through the various scenarios on a special MHR Radio Podcast (ApplePodcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher).
What if the 1998 Broncos had finished the regular season undefeated?
When Denver headed to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants in Week 15, remaining unbeaten was all the team had to play for. The Broncos entered the game 13-0 and in complete control of the AFC. As we all know, Denver lost to the Giants 20-16 and would follow suit the next week with a 31-21 loss at the Miami Dolphins.
But what if the Broncos had won those two games, and ended the season with a win over the Seattle Seahawks?
Denver still would have had home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and more than likely hosted the Dolphins in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Would that game have been closer had the Broncos beat Miami in the penultimate game of the season? There’s a chance what happened to Denver two years prior against the Jacksonville Jaguars happens again (I think it’s a minute chance, but it’s still there). Do the Broncos still host the New York Jets in the AFC Championship? Face the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl? Or does that change to the Minnesota Vikings?
What if John Elway played for the Baltimore Colts? What if the #Broncos played the #Vikings in #SuperBowl XXXIII? It's #NFL "what ifs" week @SBNation, & @AdamMalnati16 & I run through some wild ones on the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. @ApplePodcasts: https://t.co/wI1BUlq75V— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) June 24, 2019
The downside for this scenario is how much could change and alter how the season finished. The motivation the team got for the playoff run thanks to the two regular-season defeats was a big factor; especially against Miami. To put it in a different way: It pissed off an already great football team.
Not to mention the pressure of going undefeated was removed and with it the constant talk after the loss to the Giants. If the Broncos won those two games and entered the playoffs 16-0, the pressure and stress would have been amped up. Now Denver isn’t just playing to repeat, it’s playing for history.
The 1998 team was built for that, though, and it would have been so much fun to see if it could have finished the job (unlike the New England Patriots). Had the Broncos gone on to win Super Bowl XXXIII, they would have been the second team to go undefeated, and the first to go 19-0.
For the best team in Denver history, that’s the only way the 1998 season could have gone any better. But the risk is there it wouldn’t go as planned if the Broncos won those two games and Elway wouldn’t get his magical send off.
While it would have been a blast to see Denver try to finish 19-0 in 1998, I’m thankful it played out the way that it did.