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Broncos odds of making the postseason improved after their 24-7 victory over the Chargers

The Denver Broncos odds of making the postseason improved after their 24-7 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Last week I wrote about how the “Broncos postseason hopes are not dead” and laid out why they’re still in this thing. Thankfully, they proved me right with a 24-7 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and we saw some teams ahead of the Denver Broncos (Steelers, Colts, and Texans) take some surprising losses.

Now, the Broncos currently sit at 7-6 and are the 9th seed in the loaded AFC playoff picture. The New York Times currently has the Broncos at a 50% chance to make the postseason which is the 6th best odds in the conference. They have better odds than the Bills (42%), Colts (42%), Texans (41%), Bengals (25%), and Steelers (25%) currently.

So let us take a look at the remaining schedule of the Broncos and the teams they are competing with for a spot in the postseason.

Denver Broncos (7-6)

Week 15: @ Lions (9-4)

Week 16: vs. Patriots (3-10)

Week 17: vs. Chargers (5-8)

Week 18: @. Raiders (5-8)

The Broncos moved to 7-6 with their victory over the Chargers. This was a “must-win” for them because falling to 6-7 with four games to go would have made making the postseason extremely difficult for them. Thankfully, they won and the road to the postseason looks very favorable for the Broncos.

Their toughest remaining game on the schedule comes this Saturday Night when they head to Detroit to take on the Lions. A Lions team that just lost to the Chicago Bears this past Sunday could be vulnerable to a Broncos team that has won six out of their last seven games. After that? the Broncos face three straight backup quarterbacks to end their season.

On Christmas Eve night, the Broncos will host Bailey Zappe and the New England Patriots, the following week they’ll likely see Easton Stick once again (Herbert has a fractured finger on his throwing hand and the Chargers are out of it) and they’ll end the season by facing Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell. If they cannot go 4-0 or 3-1 against these types of quarterbacks, the Broncos do not belong in the playoffs.

What also helped them out was losses by the Colts, Texans, and Steelers. All three teams are at 7-6 now and the Broncos should be able to outpace all three of these teams and lock in a wildcard spot.

Even with a loss to the Lions, I really do like the Broncos' chances of making the postseason. We would be talking about a potential AFC West crown if they were able to complete the comeback vs. the Texans last week.

Cleveland Browns (8-5)

Week 15: vs. Bears (5-8)

Week 16: @ Texans (7-6)

Week 17: vs. Jets (5-8)

Week 18: @ Bengals (7-6)

The Browns moved to 8-5 with a win over the Jaguars which was a bit of a surprise. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco has that offense rolling and they’re currently the 5th seed in the AFC after that win.

Right now, they have an 85% chance to make the playoffs according to the New York Times but you can make a case that they could lose every game remaining on their schedule. So, they’ll be an interesting team to watch moving forward, but for now, they seem locked in as a wild-card team.

Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6

Week 15: @ Colts (7-6)

Week 16: vs. Bengals (7-6)

Week 17: @ Seahawks (6-7)

Week 18: @ Baltimore (10-3)

The Steelers will be without quarterback Kenny Pickett for a second straight week and are coming off a blowout loss to the at the time, two-win New England Patriots. This week, they’ll be facing a fellow 7-6 Colts team that’s fighting for a spot in the playoffs and is coming off a loss.

I have a hard time seeing the Steelers winning any of their remaining games. Their offense looks awful no matter who is under center, their defense was picked apart by Bailey Zappe, and there’s a lot of turmoil in that locker room.

I could be wrong, but I am writing the Steelers off as a playoff contender. They do not look good and overachieved to get to 7 wins as is.

Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

Week 15 vs. Steelers (7-6)

Week 16: @ Falcons (6-7)

Week 17: vs. Raiders (5-8)

Week 18: vs. Texans (7-6)

The Colts are a hard team to figure out. One week they look like a scrappy team that will make the playoffs and other weeks, they look like a middle pack of the team starting a backup quarterback. This past weekend, they were outplayed by the Bengals and backup starter Jake Browning and it was not even close.

Their remaining schedule isn’t very easy. All four teams are in the same boat as the Colts and you could make a case for them to win all four or lose all four. Last week I had them locked in for a wild card spot but this week, I have them firmly on the bubble.

Houston Texans (7-6)

Week 15: @ Titans (4-9)

Week 16: vs. Browns (8-5)

Week 17: vs. Titans (4-9)

Week 18: @ Colts (7-6)

A lot has changed for the Texans since last week. They lost their play-making rookie wide receiver Tank Dell for the year. Nico Collins who put up nearly 200 yards on the Broncos left the game vs. the Jets with a calf injury and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud left the game with a concussion. This puts Stroud’s availability for next weekend up in the air and losing Collins for an extended period of time will leave them without their top two receivers.

As for their remaining schedule, they have two games against the 4-9 Titans left on the schedule and then two other games against two playoff contenders, the Browns and Colts. At 7-6, the Texans have little room for error but they’re banged up and have two division games and two tough games left on their schedule.

Like the Colts, I had the Texans as a lock last week but things have changed. A lot depends on the injuries, but they’re firmly on the bubble and have two big games left on their schedule. We shall see how things shake out for them.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

vs. Vikings (7-6)

@ Steelers (7-6)

@ Chiefs (8-5)

vs. Browns (8-5)

I did not include the Bengals in the previous version, but since then, they have victories over the Jaguars and Colts and have put themselves in the postseason conversation. As we know, they’re without quarterback Joe Burrow but backup Jake Browning has the offense moving and putting points up on the board.

They’re certainly a Cinderella team right now, but they face a pretty tough schedule moving forward. All four of the teams remaining on their schedule have winning records and are currently in the playoffs. The Vikings are crashing back to earth with the hype surrounding the passtronaut dying, but then face a Steelers team who already defeated them, on the road in Arrowhead and play a tough Browns team in the finale.

They’re likely on the outside looking in but if they’re able to continue their winning ways against these teams they could be serious contenders for a spot in the postseason.

Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Week 15: vs. Cowboys (10-3)

Week 16: @ Chargers (5-8)

Week 17: vs. Patriots (3-10)

Week 18: @ Dolphins (10-3)

The Bills pulled an upset over the Chiefs this past Sunday (and sent Patrick Mahomes into the biggest temper tantrum we have seen in quite a while) and improved to a 7-6 record. They’re a dangerous team, but they have two very tough games left on their schedule and are the 11th seed in the AFC right now.

They need to pull a few more upsets and get some help along the way if they want to make the postseason. With Josh Allen playing at a high level, that’s certainly possible, but I think they have dug themselves into a hole they cannot get out of. With that said an upset against the Cowboys changes everything.

Final Thoughts

Man, imagine how pretty the Broncos would be sitting if they were able to complete that comeback vs. the Texans last week. Oh well.

Things still look pretty damn good for the Broncos. Everything fell beautifully for them this weekend, including their dominant win over the Chargers. Now, they have a very favorable remaining schedule and a fairly easy road to a wildcard spot...if they do their job.

The Lions game is not a “must-win” but a victory on Saturday would be huge. Get to an 8-6 record and potentially win out and finish with 11 wins? Hell yeah! Even 10 wins is exciting considering this team was sitting at 1-5 and looking horrible a few months ago.

With all that said, here is how I see the AFC shaking out moving forward.

1-4 (in no specific order): Dolphins, Ravens, Chiefs, and Jaguars

5-6: Browns and Broncos(!!)

7: Colts/Texans/Bengals/Bills and maybe the Steelers

Barring a collapse by the current divisional leaders, I think they are locked in as the one through four seeds. The Browns seem to be on their way to a 5th or 6th seed, maybe even 7th seed, but either way, they look like a wildcard team.

The Broncos have one tough game remaining on their schedule followed by three against bad teams with backup quarterbacks. They should win at least three of the next four. I think they’re your 5th or 6th seed, hell, I’ll take the 7th seed if it shakes out that way.

The final spot(s) will be interesting to watch. It could go to any of those teams, but all the teams in the running have serious questions. Whether that be starting a backup quarterback, poor overall play, injuries piling up, a tough schedule, or a combination of all of that.

In other words, I really like the Broncos chances. I could be looking at this all with the orangest tinted glasses, but I am rolling with it.


Do you think the Broncos will make the playoffs?

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