While Sunday's loss in Houston was a heartbreaking one for lots of Denver Broncos fans around the world, there remains reassuring hope that the team can still grab a spot in the AFC Wildcard round of the playoffs. In the remaining five games of the season, the Broncos have a favorable schedule of opponents ahead of them as they currently hold the ninth seed in the AFC.
The race for the fifth, sixth, and seventh seed in the AFC is currently wide open between the Texans, Browns, Steelers, Broncos, Bills, Colts, and Bengals who are still alive. Luckily for the Broncos, they have wins over the Browns and Bills and can potentially boost their chances with a sweep over the struggling division-foe Los Angeles Chargers. While they'll likely need a few competitors to plummet in the power rankings during the next five weeks (Browns, Steelers most likely), the playoffs are still very realistic for Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos.
3 reasons why Broncos can still make playoffs:
1. Strength of schedule
In the remaining five games of the Denver Broncos schedule, they have a very favorable pool of opponents including the Chargers (5-7) twice, Lions (9-3), Patriots (2-10), and Raiders (5-7). Three of their next four opponents have losing records on the season and all four opponents have a combined record of 26-34 which consists of a low 43.33% winning percentage. At a 6-6 record, the Denver Broncos are a much better football team than their record suggests and have a very realistic chance of coming out this stretch with a 4-1 record in the remaining five games.
While division games are typically a lot closer and more competitive than expected, on paper the Broncos should sweep a poor Chargers team and potentially end their losing streak against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18. Week 16 against the New England Patriots will be in Denver and will likely be a blowout win in favor of the Broncos.
As for the Lions, it is definitely a winnable game for the Broncos considering how Detroit is struggling defensively and dealing with some key injuries, but it certainly would not be the end of the world if Denver loses in Detroit against an NFC team (assuming Broncos win their remaining games). A loss would still impact Denver's seeding in the AFC however, would not be as worse as a loss to the Chargers or Raiders.