AFC Playoff Picture: Week 15 went about as bad as it could have for Broncos

Denver Broncos fans had to sit through a miserable weekend, that included action on Saturday and Sunday.

Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Denver
Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Denver / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Denver Broncos were on the wrong side of a beating in Motown on Saturday night and when Broncos fans grabbed their rooting guides for the week, they noticed that things got very ugly for the team in Week 15.

The Broncos' quest for the playoffs is now in serious question following the result of these games. Let's take a look at the results and then we'll glance at the current playoff picture.

Cincinnati Bengals 27, Minnesota Vikings 24 OT

For much of this game, it looked like the Vikings were going to win but with their season likely on the line, the Bengals rallied with Jake Browning and sent the game into overtime. They were able to win it with a field goal in the extra session.

Indianapolis Colts 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 13

This game didn't necessarily "hurt" the Broncos since both of these teams were 7-6 entering the game. But the Steelers pulling out a victory likely would have been better as they are a far inferior team and probably one that doesn't need to be worried about too much further in terms of the playoff race.

Cleveland Browns 20, Chicago Bears 17

The Bears controlled this game throughout but gave it up late. Former Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 374 yards in the game and it seems clear that the Browns are a much better team with him at quarterback.

The Bears almost stole it at the end on a Hail Mary play that should have been successful.

Houston Texans 19, Tennessee Titans 16 OT

This might be the game that hurt the Broncos the most and it was another one that went into overtime. Having to play without C.J. Stroud, Nico Collins and Tank Dell, the Texans had no business winning this game. But they pulled it out when Ka'imi Fairbairn made a 54-yard field goal with less than two minutes left in overtime.

Buffalo Bills 31, Dallas Cowboys 10

This was a surprising result as the Cowboys have been as good as any team as of late. The Bills made them look subpar on Sunday in a game that might transform their entire season.

Then there is the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs were able to get a win over the New England Patriots to pull two games ahead of the Broncos, likely putting to rest any notion that the Broncos could win the division this season.

Here is a look at the current playoff picture:

1. Baltimore Ravens: 10-3 (playing on Sunday Night Football as of this writing)

2. Miami Dolphins: 10-4

3. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-5

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-5 (playing on Sunday Night Football as of this writing)

5. Cleveland Browns: 9-5

6. Cincinnati Bengals: 8-6

7. Indianapolis Colts: 8-6

The Browns got perhaps the biggest win that any team had in the AFC this weekend as they now sit at nine wins. It is clear that this race will come down to the final week. Here is the rest of the pack.

8. Houston Texans: 8-6

9. Buffalo Bills: 8-6

10. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-7

11. Denver Broncos: 7-7

Here are the key games for next week that will help decide how these final standings shape up.

Week 16

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (Saturday)
Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers (Saturday)

Indianapolis at Atlanta
Cleveland at Houston
New England at Denver

These will all be key games in this race.

The Broncos would like to see the Steelers beat the Bengals but it seems unlikely that the Chargers, who just allowed 63 points to the Las Vegas Raiders and then fired their coach, will come anywhere close to beating the Bills.

Atlanta beating the Colts would be huge and in many ways, almost seems like a must, but they just lost to the 1-win Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The Cleveland-Houston matchup is interesting but Broncos fans need to assume that the 9-win Browns are going to the playoffs so they need to root for them to beat the Texans, a team the Broncos absolutely has to get ahead of if they want to be in the postseason.


Finally, the Broncos need to take care of their own business and beat the lowly Patriots. If the team can't win that game, all of this playoff talk and all of these playoff picture articles can be put to bed until next season.