Between the Denver Broncos having an abnormally healthy roster, efficient QB play, and solid coaching, this was the year for the team to make noise in the AFC. And with the amount of QB injuries there have been this year, the Broncos are in excellent shape from top to bottom, roster-wise. Well, the team had a golden opportunity in front of them in Week 16 to get themselves in a prime playoff spot with two games left, and they crumbled under pressure.
And it was a devastating loss. The team somehow allowed one of the worst QBs in the NFL in Bailey Zappe to throw the ball all around the field against them, and the inept New England Patriots offense put up 26 points against a solid Broncos defense. It was just painful to watch. Again, this was a perfect chance for the Broncos, as the Patriots were already way out of the playoff picture and didn't really have much to play for.
And after three-straight away games in which the team went 1-2, a short homestand against two bad teams would be a perfect spot to get to 9-7 approaching the final week of the season. They poo-pooed the season away in primetime, and the big picture makes this loss even worse.
From top to bottom, the AFC is wide, WIDE open. Outside of the Baltimore Ravens, every other current playoff team or playoff contender has serious questions. Much of these questions are due to a slew of starting QBs being out for the season, and other teams having let-down years. The Kansas City Chiefs' offense is just not that good, as their WR room is truly awful and Patrick Mahomes is having a pedestrian statistical season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that many thought would build on their promising 2022 season, have lost four games in a row and are just 8-7 on the season. The Miami Dolphins are battling through some serious injuries to their core players, and other Wild Card contenders are trotting out backup QBs.
The Denver Broncos have been insanely healthy all season. They've started the same five offensive linemen for each game. QB Russell Wilson has not been great, but he's been responsible for nearly 30 touchdowns, has a passer rating just below 100, and has thrown just eight interceptions. The defense has also rebounded somewhat and is at least an average unit right now.
I mean, this was the year for the Denver Broncos to make some noise in the AFC given how many different challenges have been present for other teams. One thing that should give some perspective here is that if the Denver Broncos could not beat the lowly New England Patriots at home, they probably don't deserve to make the playoffs anway.
And yet, at 7-8, the Broncos are still alive for not only a Wild Card spot, but can still win the division. And that's what makes this year so frustrating.