To quote the famous Jim Mora: “What’s that? Ah - Playoffs? Don’t talk about - playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!”. Yes, we are talking playoffs even if they are as unlikely as they can be at this point in the season.
With the news of quarterback Russell Wilson being benched and his looming contract decision clouding the Broncos' offseason, the last thing on anyone’s mind right now is the playoffs. The Broncos' disappointing loss on Christmas Eve to the New England Patriots all but ended their hopes of making the playoffs but they are not completely dead (but on life support).
NFL Network’s Tom Peliserro shared scenarios given to him by NFL research where they showed scenarios in which the Broncos will be eliminated from the playoffs and ways they can clinch a wildcard spot or even win their division. It is complicated and a long shot to happen but we will walk you through the scenarios listed below.
How can the Jarrett Stidham-led #Broncos make the playoffs?— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 27, 2023
Either they win their next two games and the #Chiefs lose their next two, or else … it gets a little complicated.
(h/t @RealJackAndrade @NFLResearch) pic.twitter.com/gCWqP94r72
First, let us take a look at the ways the Broncos can be eliminated from postseason action this weekend.
- Broncos lose to Chargers
- Broncos win AND Chiefs win vs. Bengals, Bills win vs. Patriots, and Steelers win vs. Seahawks OR Chiefs win vs. Bengals
- Broncos win AND Chiefs win vs. Bengals, Bills win vs. Patriots, Colts win vs. Raiders, Texans win vs. Titans and Jaguars lose to Panthers
- Broncos win AND Chiefs win vs. Bengals, Steelers win vs. Seahawks, Texans win vs. Titans, and Jaguars lose vs. Panthers
If the Broncos defeat the Chargers this weekend, they still have a good chance of being eliminated from postseason action. So, this will be something to watch this weekend.
- Broncos win their final two games (Chargers and Raiders) AND Bills lose their final two games of the season (Patriots and Dolphins) to finish 9-8, the Steelers lose their final two games (Seattle and Baltimore) to finish 8-9, Bengals lose one of their remaining two games (Chiefs and Browns and (this is where things get messy) one of the Jaguars, Colts, and Texans to lose their final two games. Colts play Raiders and Texans, Jaguars play Panthers and Titans, and Texans play Titans and Colts.
If all this happens, the Broncos would have the 6th seed in the AFC
There is a lot there that needs to happen here for the Broncos to secure a postseason spot and it is all very unlikely to fall the way they need it. Always possible but the odds are greatly stacked vs. the Broncos.
- Broncos win their final two games (Chargers and Raiders) and the Chiefs lose their final two games (Bengals and Chargers)
Oddly, this might be the most likely scenario to happen and even then it is very unlikely. The Chiefs have not been playing great, have had turmoil on the sidelines, and are trending the wrong direction as we head towards the postseason. Unfortunately, the Broncos have not been able to capitalize on this but all hope is not dead. If the Broncos win out and the Chiefs lose out, they will be crowned AFC West champs.
Will this happen? Probably not. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert will not be dueling it out with Patrick Mahomes. We’ll need to rely on Jake Browning and Easton Stick to come through for the Broncos and Jarrett Stidham to lead the Broncos to victory in their final two games.