DENVER, Colo. - Chilling temperatures swept through Denver Monday night as the Broncos took on the New England Patriots at Invesco at Mile High. Though the weather in the Mile High City was cold and dreary, it hardly compared to the atmosphere as Bronco fans watched their once healthy and newly constructed team suffer a bone chilling loss to the Patriots. The loss Monday night was more than merely the Broncos' fourth loss of the season; it was a loss that slowly melted away the vision many had of the Broncos playing in the playoffs.
Since watching the Broncos experience three consecutive losses, numerous fans question the fate of the Broncos this season. But, regardless of the adversarial predicament the Broncos are in at this time, the team has not lost hope. Lenny Walls explains that they are not "giving up the season." "We may be 5-4," said Walls, "but that doesn't mean we can't make the playoffs."
True, a 5-4 record doesn't necessarily mean the Broncos won't make the playoffs. But, what it does mean is that some drastic changes have to occur during their bye week in order to stand a chance of making a playoff appearance this season.
Broncos' chances at AFC Divisional Playoff Game:
Although the Broncos have made the Divisional Playoffs 6 times in the past twenty years with 4 or 5 regular season losses, it is very unlikely to occur this season. In order for this to happen, the Chiefs, who have an undefeated record of 8-0, would have to completely flop and the Broncos would have to be undefeated for the rest of the season. The Broncos stand a much better chance at a Wild Card slot.
Chances at AFC Wild Card Playoff Game if undefeated for rest of season:
In the past twenty years, the Broncos have made only one Wild Card appearance after suffering 4 regular season losses. But, this one wild card experience gave the Broncos the chance to reclaim their status in the NFL. In the 1997 playoffs, the Broncos filled a wild card spot with a 12-4 record and continued on to win the Super Bowl. If thou shall compare thee to John Elway, there is a remote chance Jake Plummer could lead the Broncos down this road, but it seems very unrealistic at this point.
Although, the Broncos are expected to go into week 13 with an 8-4 record, it is unlikely the Broncos will be able to complete the rest of the season undefeated. The Broncos will face Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Green Bay before the end of the season, therefore it is much more pragmatic to expect, at the very least, one more loss.
Chances at AFC Wild Card Playoff Game with another loss:
Technically, the Broncos could suffer one more loss and still have a chance at the AFC wild card spot. History shows it can happen, but in the past twenty years, the Broncos have made only 3 Wild Card appearances, all of which ended in defeat, when suffering more than 4 regular season losses. And, with AFC contenders such as Miami, with 5-3 record, and Tennessee, with a 6-2 record, the chances don't look very promising.
Although the Broncos haven't lost hope in making the playoffs, they are definitely discontent with the form their season has taken thus far and are focused and determined to turn it around.
Fullback Mike Anderson believes, "The bye week couldn't have come at a better time. We really need to take some time off and get away from everything. Every now and then, everybody needs a little break. Sometimes you need time to regroup and rethink things."
The Broncos plan to come back from the bye week healthy and able to find a way to be victorious, while they still have a chance at going to the 2003 playoffs.
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