Super Bowl LVIII is getting closer, as the NFL Playoffs are starting this weekend with the Wild Card games. Unfortunately, the Denver Broncos won't be participating for the 8th straight season. The first seed (team with the best win-loss record in each conference) has a 'bye' and will not play until next week in the Divisional round. The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are the two number-one seeds.
With that being said, here are the Wild Card round matchups:
Buffalo Bills (2) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (7)
Kansas City Chiefs (3) vs Miami Dolphins (6)
Houston Texans (4) vs Cleveland Browns (5)
Dallas Cowboys (2) vs Green Bay Packers (7)
Detroit Lions (3) vs Los Angeles Rams (6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4) vs Philadelphia Eagles (5)
Out of the 14 playoff teams, the Denver Broncos faced five teams from the AFC (played KC twice - division rival), and two teams from the NFC, for a total of seven teams. Eight out of the 17 regular season games for the Broncos were against teams that today are in the playoffs trying to win the Super Bowl. Denver finished with a 4-4 win-loss record against these teams. Let's take a look at how these matchups went.
Week 3 at Miami Dolphins (Loss):
An awful game for the Denver Broncos and undoubtedly the worst of the season. Denver lost their first road game of the season by a historic score of 70-20. It was the most points scored by a team since 1966. Miami had franchise records beaten and were just two points away from tying the NFL record for most points scored in a game (72 by Washington). Following that game, many thought that the Broncos were the worst team in the league and that their defensive coaches, including DC Vance Joseph, should have been fired.
Week 6 at Kansas City Chiefs (Loss):
It was the first out of five (Chiefs - TNF, Bills - MNF, Vikings - SNF, Lions - Saturday Night, and Patriots - Sunday Night) primetime game of the season for the Denver Broncos, and the defense looked very improved compared to the first five games of the season. It was a very weird game, in which the defense allowed the offense to stay alive in the game, but the offense did not take advantage and lost the game. The good part about that game is that they allowed only one touchdown to superstar quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
Week 7 vs Green Bay Packers (Win):
This one was the first one of the five-game winning streak, at home against the Packers. It was not the best game for the Broncos, but still managed to win the game and get their season hopes up. Denver improved to a 2-5 win-loss record after beating Green Bay. It was Denver's season-high in combined rushing yards by the running backs with 135.
Week 8 vs Kansas City Chiefs (Win):
The Broncos finally defeated the Chiefs, during the 2023-24 season. It was the first time it happened since the Peyton Manning era, back in 2015. Not only did Denver defeat KC, but they beat them in style, by a 24-9 score, forcing five turnovers, and without allowing a touchdown. Sean Payton became the first Broncos head coach to beat the Chiefs since Gary Kubiak. A second-straight win for Denver, improving their record to 3-5 heading into their bye week.
Week 10 at Buffalo Bills (Win):
The Broncos returned from their bye week and won another big game, their third-consecutive, and against the powerful Buffalo Bills ... not only on the road but in primetime. It was a walkoff win for the Broncos, thanks to a Wil Lutz game-winning field goal. The defense forced four turnovers, and their star wideout Stefon Diggs was locked down by Patrick Surtain, as he only had one catch for 11 yards when covered by the young cornerback. The Broncos improved to a 4-5 win-loss record.
Week 12 vs Cleveland Browns (Win):
The Broncos got their fifth-consecutive win over the Cleveland Browns, getting to an over 0.500 record for the first time in the season after starting 1-5. The Broncos had a strong running game, with 169 combined rushing yards (including Russell Wilson's rushing yards), and kept forcing turnovers, to be specific three, plus a defensive safety.
Week 13 at Houston Texans (Loss):
The Broncos' five-win streak was snapped by rookie quarterback, and the favorite to win the offensive Rookie of the Year award, CJ Stroud, the number two overall pick from the 2023 NFL Draft. The Broncos were down, but the game finished by a one-possession score. The Broncos failed to score a touchdown to win the game with less than 20 seconds left in the clock. Russell Wilson threw an interception in third down and goal in a pass intended to tight end Lucas Krull.
Week 15 at Detroit Lions (Loss):
An awful game for Denver since the start of the game. Detroit started on offense, and they punted in the first drive. The Broncos were already in field goal range in their first offensive drive, and Russell Wilson fumbled the football, Detroit recovered. The offense started with a good rhythm, but after that fumble, everything went down for Denver. They ended up losing that game by a 42-17 score.
Will the Super Bowl LVIII champion be one of the teams that the Broncos defeated in the 2023-24 regular season?