Broncos Update Insider - Tuesday, Dec. 13

With the AFC West title close at hand, the Denver Broncos can focus on beating out Cincinnati for a first-round bye. Denver has a two-game lead over San Diego and Kansas City in the AFC West with three games to go. Barring a collapse, Denver will win its first division title since 1998.

But the Broncos are well aware how important a bye is if they want to go to the Super Bowl. Only two teams have won the Super Bowl without having a first-round bye, although the Broncos did it, in 1997. The Broncos and Bengals are each 10-3.

"It's very important to have a bye and a home game," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. "You win two games and you're in the Super Bowl. That's what we're trying to get, and we got to take care of business these last three games."

The Broncos would get the second seed in the AFC if they win out. Denver would win the tiebreaker against Cincinnati if both teams win out because the Broncos would have a better conference record. Denver has lost only two AFC games, and Cincinnati has three AFC losses.

The Broncos are in good shape with tiebreakers if they finish 2-1 in their final three games and Cincinnati also loses one of its final three games. But the Broncos don't want to depend on any help down the stretch.

"If we win all our games, it really does not matter," defensive end Trevor Pryce said.


--The Broncos will be without starting cornerback Darrent Williams for the remainder of the regular season with a groin injury, and he might miss the playoffs, too.

Williams hurt his groin against Baltimore on Sunday. Williams has started at cornerback most of the year for the Broncos. He also has returned punts and kickoffs for the Broncos, so losing him is a big blow. Williams was in obvious pain after the game.

"It hurts pretty bad right now," Williams said.

--Broncos offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell, who is on injured reserve after suffering injuries in a car accident in October, watched Sunday's game from the sideline. He said he wants to return to play next season.

"I got a little more football in me," Carswell said.



--CB Domonique Foxworth will move into the starting lineup with Darrent Williams out with a groin injury. Foxworth is a rookie, but he doesn't miss many assignments. He has played a lot, and the Broncos have confidence in him.

--CB Curome Cox is one of the players who might be Denver's nickel cornerback down the stretch. Domonique Foxworth has been the nickel back most of the season, but he will move into the starting lineup with Darrent Williams out with a groin injury. Cox was on the practice squad to start the year. He allowed a long touchdown late in Denver's game against Baltimore on Sunday.

--CB Karl Paymah hasn't played much, but he is an option to be Denver's nickel cornerback as long as Darrent Williams is out with a groin injury. Paymah is fast and physical but didn't adjust to the pro game as quickly as fellow rookies Williams and Domonique Foxworth.

--RB Ron Dayne didn't play much against Baltimore. He is not completely out of Denver's plans, but the Broncos obviously figured that splitting carries equally between three backs was difficult.

--LB Keith Burns returned to the lineup after missing one game with a knee injury. Burns is Denver's best special teams player, and the Broncos' opponent this week is Buffalo, which has dangerous returners Roscoe Parrish and Terrence McGee.

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