Nine games into the season, the Denver Broncos are officially in the hunt for a potential wild card spot as they are riding the wave of an impressive three-game winning streak. This all comes just weeks after the team and coaching staff were under intense scrutiny following their 1-5 start to the season. However, despite all of the rebuilding talks moving up to the trade deadline, head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph have steered clear of a near collapse.
The Broncos are 4-5 under Sean Payton and are heading into Week 11 riding a ton of momentum as one of the NFL's hottest teams. The offense finally has a proclaimed identity running the football and Russell Wilson has proved to be the league's best quarterback inside the 20-yard line where it matters most. On top of that, the defense has significantly improved their performance over the previous four games allowing just 16.8 points per game -- an incredible turnaround.
In the AFC, a record of 10 wins will likely stand as the bare minimum of what it will take for a team to clinch the playoffs. It would take several different scenarios to play out for a team to slip into the postseason with just nine total wins. The teams currently tied with the Broncos with four wins include the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets. As of now, Denver is placed 14th in the AFC but is just one game back out from the seventh seed 5-4 Houston Texans. However, despite there currently being a tight race in the AFC, Denver's chances of clinching the playoffs just became much more probable.
First and foremost, we are wishing a speedy recovery to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. The NFL will be less entertaining without him and you never want to see players deal with injuries, especially of this magnitude.
But for the sake of the Denver Broncos season, this could very well mean a playoff spot has opened up. Following Cincinnati's loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football, the Bengals dropped to 10th place in the AFC standings meaning a once contender could now miss the playoffs without their superstar franchise quarterback at the helm. This is no excuse for Denver to believe the path to the postseason will be a much easier one however, there is reason to believe the Broncos can clinch their first playoff birth in eight years despite their 1-5 start to the year.
Their biggest competitors for the fifth, sixth, and seventh seeds include the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, and Los Angeles Chargers. Luckily the Broncos have already defeated the Bills, but they will next be tasked with taking down the Browns and Texans in the upcoming weeks along with the opportunity to sweep the Chargers for the first time since 2019. Denver's chances of making the postseason are very feasible considering an AFC team in the Bengals have already essentially been wiped from the race.