4. Week 16 vs. New England Patriots
Christmas games have not been kind to the Denver Broncos in recent years. Luckily, Christmas Eve is on a Tuesday in 2024 and Christmas Day is on a Wednesday, so perhaps the NFL will give it a rest for a year.
The Broncos had a chance to increase their playoff odds to 42 percent with a win over the Patriots on Christmas Eve, and they had a chance to play this game at home. Everyone knows that Bill Belichick-coached teams are going to give you trouble, no matter what their record is, but this was a game the Denver Broncos had to win and should have won.
Instead, they kind of got their butts kicked throughout. The Patriots had a sizeable 16-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Broncos came storming back. The Broncos tied this game at 23 apiece in the fourth, and got the ball back with a chance to drive for a game-ending field goal. But the offense stalled at the worst possible time. They gave the ball back to the Patriots, who were then trying to play for overtime.
They handed the ball not once but twice to Ezekiel Elliott, and the Broncos called timeouts to try and get the ball back one last time. Unfortunately, Bailey Zappe made a huge throw on third down to put the Patriots in great position to win the game themselves. Who knows how different this would have been if the Broncos had just let Belichick run the clock out in regulation and play for overtime?
We'll never know.
Unfortunately, the decisions made in this game killed the Broncos' playoff hopes. Denver desperately needed this win and if they had gotten it, they could be 9-7 right now and playing for a playoff spot in Week 18.