3 reasons the Broncos still have strong playoff hopes

Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions
Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions / Rey Del Rio/GettyImages
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3) Teams above the Broncos all play each other... and some tough opponents

The race for the 6th and 7th seeds is jumbled with 7 and 8-win teams. Arguably most importantly, most of these teams play each other and some other strong opponents. Let's take a look at the remaining games for teams above the Broncos:

BUF: @ LAC, vs NE, @ MIA
HOU: vs CLE, vs TEN, @ IND
PIT: vs CIN, @ SEA, @ BAL
CIN: @ PIT, vs KC, vs CLE
IND: @ ATL, vs LV, vs HOU
DEN: vs NE, vs LAC, @ LV

The Broncos are the only team to play all their games against teams currently not in a playoff spot. Two of the matchups of import over the next three weeks include two of the above teams against each other. The Bengals finish their season at home, but with two games against teams with at least nine wins and currently in a strong playoff position. The Texans host the 9-win Browns next week and finish with a pivotal matchup in Indiana. Ultimately, the Broncos, if they win out, should be able to sit back and let chaos ensue.

For the sake of picking these matchups, let's assume that the favorite wins every game. If that holds true, here are the final records:
(5) HOU: 11-6 - win out
(7) DEN: 10-7 - win out
BUF: 10-7 - win @ LAC, vs NE, loss @ MIA
CIN: 9-8 - win @ PIT, losses vs KC and CLE
PIT: 7-10 - lose out
IND: 10-7 - wins @ ATL, vs LV, loss vs HOU

In this scenario, the Broncos take the 7th seed, the Browns the 6th, and the Texans the 5th. The Bills effectively need to win out if the Dolphins go 1-1 against the Cowboys and Ravens. If the Dolphins go 0-2, however, week 18 becomes winner-take-all: winner takes the division, loser goes home. The Steelers shouldn't be favored in another game this week, and have lost three in a row.


The Texans are likely the best team of the bunch. The Colts have two favorable games, but the Falcons are playing for their playoff lives next week. If the Falcons can win this week, the Colts would need to win out and receive some help. Needless to say, the Broncos need to take care of their business and hope the fate of the NFL universe bounces their way.

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