Week 16: Analyzing The Denver Broncos Path To The Playoffs

The Broncos have lost two in a row and are now on the outside looking in on the AFC playoff picture. What will it take for the Broncos to secure a spot in the tournament?

The Denver Broncos took a couple of big steps back, losing their last two games. One, a Week 14 road loss to the Tennessee Titans, and two, Sunday's home defeat to the New England Patriots.

Heading into Week 16, the Broncos are now 8-6 and the ninth seed in the AFC. They're still withing striking distance of winning 10 games, and securing the sixth and final seed in the playoffs. 

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719434-get-si-subscription-with-... Unfortunately, these last two losses have have robbed the Broncos of the privilege of controlling their playoff destiny. Now, not only do they have win their last two games — at the Kansas City Chiefs and home vs. the Oakland Raiders — they now need help to get into the postseason. 

According to fivethirtyeight.com, the Broncos currently have a 17 percent chance to make the playoffs, but if they win their last two contests, they would have a 62 percent chance at the NFL tournament.

If the Broncos lose to the Chiefs, but beat the Raiders, their odds plummet to just an 8 percent chance. But if they beat Kansas City, and lose at home to Oakland, their chances would be diminished to 12 percent. 

Bottom line, to really have a solid path to new postseason life, the Broncos have to win both of their remaining games. And let's face it, that'll be a tall order. 

The Raiders have already been guaranteed a playoff berth — their first since 2002 — and the Chiefs odds sit at 99 percent. The Broncos have to leapfrog three teams to clinch the sixth seed — 9-5 Miami Dolphins (6), 8-6 Baltimore Ravens (7) and the 8-6 Tennessee Titans (8). 

Playoff-clinching scenarios can be confusing but here are the situations to monitor in Week 16.  

(9-5) Miami Dolphins at (7-7) Buffalo Bills

Need to win: Buffalo

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The Broncos are hoping that the Bills can hand Miami their sixth loss of the season. The Dolphins are arguably Denver's biggest obstacle to the playoffs. If Miami beats the Bills and the Broncos lose to the Chiefs, Denver would be eliminated from postseason contention. 

(8-6) Baltimore Ravens at (9-5) Pittsburgh Steelers

Need to win: Pittsburgh

Baltimore could also be problematic for the Broncos. Really, any team ahead of them in current seeding is a threat.

If the Broncos beat the Chiefs, the Dolphins lose to the Bills and the Steelers beat the Ravens, Denver's playoff chances rise dramatically. What the Broncos hope to avoid is both the Ravens and the Steelers finishing 10-6, which would eliminate them. 

(12-2) New England Patriots at (4-10) New York Jets

Need to win: New York

The key to this game is New England having something to play for in Week 17 against Miami. Right now, New England and Oakland are vying for the No. 1 seed, and a Jets win would put off that resolution until Week 17, which would force New England to play their starters against Miami. 

(7-7) Indianapolis Colts at (11-3) Oakland Raiders

Need to win: Oakland

The Broncos want the Raiders to win in order to keep pressure on the Patriots to not rest their starters in Week 17. 

(8-6) Tennessee Titans at (2-12) Jacksonville Jaguars

Need to win: Jacksonville

This game is almost a coin-flip in terms of which team to root for. A Jaguars win would only help the Broncos if Denver loses one of their two remaining games, because the Titans would then control the tiebreaker over the Broncos. 

If the Titans win their final two games, they would finish 10-6, which would guarantee them the AFC South crown. The Broncos would then own the tiebreaker over the Houston Texans for the sixth seed. 

There you have it. Clear as mud. 

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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