It's unlikely that Denver clinches the AFC West division title in 2023. Realistically, what would be the ideal matchup for the team if they clinch a Wild Card Spot in 2023? According to ESPN and their Football Power Index, the Denver Broncos have a 44 percent chance to make the postseason, and is most likely to earn the seventh seed if they were to clinch a spot.
However, everything from them winning the division and even earning the one seed to missing the playoffs entirely is on the table. Realistically, as excited as some of us are that the Broncos could win the division, it's not likely to happen. In fact, ESPN gives the Kansas City Chiefs a 93 percent chance to win the AFC West.
So, expect the Broncos to claim one of the three Wild Card seeds if they make the postseason. That would mean Denver would face either the second, third, or fourth seed during Wild Card weekend. With the NFL's new playoff format, only the one seed earns the bye week. Among the teams that could get the 2-4 seeds, which matchup would be the most ideal?
Some might say that playing the Chiefs again would be ideal. I've even seen some say that a rematch versus the Miami Dolphins is a good one. However, in my opinion, the most ideal matchup for the Denver Broncos during Wild Card weekend would be traveling to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are currently the fourth seed in the AFC and on pace to win the AFC South.
You see, when I look at the realistic top-four seeded teams when the AFC playoffs come into shape, I am personally least worried about Jacksonville. First of all, the Broncos beat the Jaguars recently. They took them down in London in 2022.
Right now, and frankly, all throughout the 2023 season, the Jaguars just don't feel like a great team. In fact, I think the Broncos are better. Denver has a more efficient QB in Russell Wilson and a better overall defense. Jacksonville has lost three of their last five, and give up the third-most passing yards in the NFL.
They've also given up the fourth-most touchdown passes in 2023. Third-year QB Trevor Lawrence has also regressed a bit as a passer. He's thrown 17 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions this year and has taken 31 sacks in 13 games. He took just 27 sacks in 17 games last year, so he's ending plays on his rear end at a higher rate this year.
They really don't do anything particularly well. They have one legitimate threat within their pass rush and no secondary rushing threat behind Travis Etienne. Overall, I'm not sure the Jaguars are a better football team than the Denver Broncos right now. In fact, I think if these two teams faced off during Wild Card weekend, the Broncos would have a clear path to the Divisional Round.