Denver Broncos: Playoff clinching scenarios vs. Chargers


Denver Broncos fans are among the savviest in sports so they know it is of utmost importance to root for the Miami Dolphins before the Broncos take on the San Diego Chargers in the regular season finale Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

This is by virtue of a 20-17 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals by the Broncos Monday, combined with the New York Jets upsetting the New England Patriots 26-20 last Sunday which has given the Broncos a whole world of playoff possibilities.

If the Dolphins upset the beleaguered Patriots (especially up-front, they were already starting two rookies on the offensive line Sunday) and the Broncos beat San Diego, they will be the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

This is because the Broncos have overcome 14-point deficits against the Patriots and Bengals this season, as well as against Kansas City in Week 2. They are the first team in NFL history to have this many such comebacks in one season and all of them have been vital for where the franchise is in terms of playoff positioning.

With that said, the best course of action is for the Broncos to take care of business against San Diego which would assure them no worse than their fifth consecutive AFC West championship and the #2 seed in the playoffs, which entails a home playoff game and a vital first-round bye.

A loss to the Chargers would only enable the Broncos to retain #2 and an AFC West title should the Oakland Raiders upset the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, a game which will be airing at the same time on FOX while Broncos-Chargers is a CBS broadcast.

Anyway, the Broncos primarily won against the Bengals because they found a way to run the ball effectively as their best tailback, C.J. Anderson (9 car, 73 yards, TD) was healthy and came back into the game after an apparently bad injury was overcome.

The Broncos amassed 390 yards against one of the Top 10 defenses in the league and out-rushed the Bengals 113-108 so the much-maligned offensive line did its job and gave signal-caller Brock Osweiler (27 of 39, 299 yards, TD) opportunities to make plays in the passing game as the game went on.

The Broncos’ defense, of course, despite allowing the Bengals to take a 14-0 lead, only allowed 69 yards from late in the 2nd Quarter through the second half and overtime. In watching the film before I went to bed Tuesday night for a second time, it was almost as if the Broncos’ defensive line decided they were in control and would not allow the Bengals to have any space.

Speaking of the Broncos’ defense, statistically and by virtue of film-watching, it is the best unit in the NFL indisputably as it is tops in net yardage allowed per game (280.9), passing yards allowed per game (199.1) and sacks (49) second against the run (81.8) and fourth in scoring defense (18.4 points per game surrendered).

In this way, the Broncos butter their bread and they welcome in an old adversary Sunday in the Chargers, led by prodigious signal-caller Philip Rivers who has made the Chargers the fourth-best passing offense in the NFL. However, with a record of 4-11 and a defense giving up 24.7 points per game, you can bet he’d trade his 27 touchdowns/12 interceptions and 66.5 completion percentage for a chance at the postseason.

If the Broncos do their job, they get a bye and perhaps even more but time will tell. All they can do is win Sunday and go from there.