At 5-5, the Denver Broncos are firmly in the AFC playoff hunt. The team enters Week 12 in the 10th spot in the AFC, after entering Week 11 in the 14th spot. The Broncos host the Browns on Sunday, but there are plenty of other games to pay attention to during the week. These statistics are thanks to the New York Times Playoff Simulator, which can be found here.
The simulator gives the Broncos a 21% chance to make the NFL playoffs after their win over the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. With a win at home over the Browns, the Broncos' chances would improve to 31%. Here is a Broncos fan's rooting guide for NFL week twelve. For the sake of this week, we will look just at the Wild Card race, and not the AFC West (yet) and work as if the Broncos can win next week.
Important games: Steelers @ Bengals, Buccaneers @ Colts, Jaguars @ Texans, Bills @ Eagles
Game One: Bengals vs Steelers, 1 PM ET
This one will be short of offense. Kenny Pickett and the Steelers (6-4) head into Cincinnati after being out-gained for the 10th game this year. The Steelers dropped the matchup in Cleveland on a last-minute field goal, and the Steelers managed just 10 points on 249 yards, 74 of which came on one touchdown run by Jaylen Warren. Kenny Pickett went 15-28 with 106 yards, no touchdowns, and was sacked three times.
Needless to say, the Steelers are a rough watch right now. The offense is struggling (fired OC Matt Canada), and the defense was not able to overcome the offense's struggles in Cleveland. Their defense continues to be great, but like many Broncos teams of the past, were given no wiggle room. On the other side, the Bengals are now without Joe Burrow for the rest of the year, and Jake Browning will be tasked with leading the Bengals the rest of the way. Browning, 27, got into his first NFL career action last week.
Needless to say, this one might be tough to watch. However, despite their offensive struggles, the Steelers still sit in the 7th AFC playoff spot and are ahead of the Broncos. A win for the Bengals would shoot the Broncos' playoff odds to 35%, a 4% increase from one game. As cracks in the foundation continue to show in Pittsburgh, it is fair to wonder if the team that has failed to gain more yardage than their opponent in every game this year can keep up their .600 winning percentage. Winning on the road is always tough in the NFL, and it could be even more so after a devastating loss as time expired in Week 11. Broncos fans should be rooting for a Bengals win next week.