The Denver Broncos are one of six teams in the AFC with a 7-6 record and playoff hopes. Their Week 14 game versus the Lions is proving to be a win-or-go-home game. I kind of said something similar before the Broncos Week 13 game versus the Houston Texans, but because of what has transpired since then, the Broncos have actually gained ground in the AFC Wild Card race.
And now at 7-6, the Broncos need to separate themselves among the 7-6 teams if they want to clinch a Wild Card spot and return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2015. The team has two home games and two away games left.
And their hardest game on paper is in Week 14 versus the Lions. Looking ahead a bit, the Broncos face the Patriots, Chargers, and Raiders in Weeks 16-18. Fortunately for Denver, each team among those final three opponents are currently playing a backup QB. Bailey Zappe, Easton Stick, and Aidan O'Connell are likely going to be the Broncos' QB opposition.
And with the way the defense has shutdown QBs like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert for a bit, they should make easy work of their final three QB matchups. It's not insane to think that Denver can go 3-0 over Weeks 15-17, simply because the QBs they are set to face are bad. Well, the biggest hurdle for the team before getting to that easy stretch is Week 14.
And the Detroit Lions are a solid football team that also has a ton to play for. They sit at 9-4 and have a two-game lead in the NFC North. The Lions are also just one game behind the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys. The battle for the #1 seed is very much a thing in the NFC, and Detroit is surely still wanting to grab that bye week, too.
The game is also in primetime this coming Saturday. If Denver loses this game, they fall to 7-7 and could fall as far down as 11th in the AFC seeding, if my math is correct. Right now, Denver sits at 9th in the AFC, and they could jump into a playoff spot at the conclusion of Week 15, and it could be as high as the 5th seed. So, basically, the Broncos can go from a playoff lock in Week 15 to the season essentially being over.
And as crazy as it sounds, I don't think getting to 10-7 would be a guarantee at the postseason. I think it's pretty clear that Week 15 versus the Detroit Lions is as "win or go home" as it gets.