Dec 14, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a ball into the stands after the game in which the Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 22-10 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
The first task for the Denver Broncos is now completed. Ticket to the playoffs punched.
With their 22-10 win over the San Diego Chargers, the Denver Broncos secured their fourth straight AFC West title. Winning the division guarantees the Broncos will get to play at least one playoff game at home. Postseason football in Denver is an exciting time for fans. Their win makes it so that the Broncos can not finish worst than the fourth seed for the playoffs. But this team does not look like a fourth seed.
Even though the Broncos have clinched a spot in the playoff, there is still at least one more scenario that they can obtain in order to make their playoff path to the Super Bowl a bit easier. The next scenario is the first round bye. What that accomplishes for a team is that they are allowed to have a bye during the Wild Card round and advance straight to the Divisional Round. The Broncos can obtain the first round bye for the playoff with the following scenarios.
Denver Wins vs Cincinnati Bengals
Denver Ties and the Indianapolis Colts lose or tie
The reasoning behind why simply a win will give the Broncos a first round bye in the AFC Playoff is by virtue of the tiebreakers. The Broncos would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts because of their wins against both teams. The tie plus an Indianapolis loss would give them the tiebreaker because the Broncos would be 11-3-1, Indianapolis would be 10-5, and Cincinnati would be 9-4-2. The worst the Broncos would be able to finish in that scenario is 11-4-1 and that would give them a half game lead over the Colts, which at best in that scenario would finish 11-5.
Having a first round bye for the Broncos would be beneficial to the team in order to give them that extra week to rest up key players for a playoff push towards the ultimate prize. There is still a chance that the Broncos could get homefield advantage, but at best they would hopefully have to wait until next week. But as I have said before, the Broncos need to take care of business first before anything else. The first step is completed by winning the division. Now, in order to make the playoff run a bit easier, they need to win on Monday night.