Broncos playoff chances take major hit after brutal loss in Houston

The Denver Broncos lost their first game in two months, and it was brutal.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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The Denver Broncos went on the road to face the Houston Texans in Week 13, and came away with a very unfortunate loss. As a matter of fact, the loss the Broncos suffered against Houston is arguably the most brutal variety. The Broncos had the ball down inside the 10-yard line with less than two minutes on the clock, down by five points, and situationally had played everything perfectly. On third-and-goal, Russell Wilson escaped a sack and threw an ill-advised pass to practice squad tight end Lucas Krull, who was covered well by Texans safety Jimmie Ward.

Ward picked off Wilson's pass, and the game ended horrendously for the Broncos.

You'd rather lose a game by 50 points than lose like this, it's just heartbreaking. The Broncos drop to 6-6 on the season and are simply hoping not to lose too much ground in the AFC playoff race at this point. The worse aspect of losing in Houston is the fact that this loss pushes the Broncos to 3-5 on the season against AFC opponents, and now the Texans basically have a one-game lead and a tie-breaker in case that comes into play later in the season.

Heading into this weekend, the Broncos ranked 8th in the AFC with seven playoff spots available. As of the time of this post being written, the Pittsburgh Steelers trailed by 14 points against the Arizona Cardinals (in a weather delay) and the Tennessee Titans are driving down the field in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts (update: The Titans lost)

The Broncos desperately need both the Steelers and Colts to lose, as well as the Cleveland Browns in their game against the Los Angeles Rams. Of course, that's a lot of help needed, but the Broncos are 6-6, so that's to be expected. It's going to be a fight to the finish line for Denver, which now likely can only afford one loss the remainder of the season, if that. After the way the season started, I don't think anyone expected the Broncos to finish 12-5, so here is a little more adversity.

How will the team respond?

After losing to the Texans, the Broncos now have to hope other teams lose while Houston sits in that 8th spot in the AFC. Even if Cleveland and Pittsburgh end up losing their games, the Broncos will still be a game behind them in the overall standings, but at least they won't have lost any ground.

The tough one right now is the Colts getting a road victory against the Tennessee Titans. That win propelled the Colts to 7-5 on the season and now puts the Broncos behind a minimum of four teams.

AFC Wild Card Race

  • 5. Pittsburgh Steelers (barring result vs. ARZ)
  • 6. Cleveland Browns (barring result vs. LAR)
  • 7. Indianapolis Colts
  • 8. Houston Texans
  • 9. Denver Broncos

As of the time of this post being written, it looks like there will be a mess of 7-5 teams ahead of the 6-6 Denver Broncos. The Broncos' next matchup is on the road next weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers, and that game will have some more massive implications as the Chargers are 5-7 and technically not out of things, either.

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A loss against Houston didn't completely kill the Denver Broncos' playoff chances, but it hurt them substantially.

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