"It's sure nice to control your own destiny, that's for sure," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.
The Broncos will be the fifth seed in the AFC with a win over San Francisco next Sunday. They'll also be in the playoffs if the Chiefs lose to Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Broncos would probably take the charity, but they're prepared to win and seal the spot.
"We've got to grind," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "We got ourselves in that situation."
If the season ended today, the Broncos would be the fifth seed and would play at New England, which is the fourth seed. The Colts could also end up as the fourth seed in the AFC.
The Broncos were fortunate on Sunday. Cincinnati botched an extra point, which would have tied the game with 41 seconds remaining. Instead, the Broncos were looking forward to a playoff berth, and pleased with the way they are playing late in the season.
"This is when you want to play your best football," cornerback Darrent Williams said. "Early in the season you can be good, but this is where you want to play your football, in November and December and into January when the playoffs come. Usually the hot teams are the teams that win."
--Broncos players and coaches were shaken up when cornerback Domonique Foxworth had trouble breathing in the locker room after the game and had to be attended to by the team's training staff. Foxworth was hyperventilating. He didn't need to go to the hospital or take further tests.
"He was not feeling very good after the game and the team was around him for a few minutes," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "Doctors were looking at him. He got back to where he could sit up and could communicate so I think he is fine now. But it kind of keeps things in perspective."
--Tailback Tatum Bell was on the bench for much of the second half after he lost a fumble near the end of the first half. The same thing happened in Denver's previous game, against Arizona.
Shanahan said he didn't lose faith in Tatum Bell, but he left the decision on who would play up to running backs coach Bobby Turner, and Turner went with Mike Bell.
"You can't play if you fumble the football and Tatum's well aware of that," Shanahan said.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES --RB Mike Bell played most of the second half against Cincinnati and was effective. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he still believes in starter Tatum Bell, but Tatum Bell has fumbled in two straight games and is on a short leash.
--WR Javon Walker caught a long touchdown pass from Jay Cutler on a perfect stop-and-go route that froze Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Walker is Denver's top threat on offense and Cutler is getting more comfortable with him. Walker hurt his wrist in the third quarter but returned to the game.
--OT Adam Meadows was active against Cincinnati but didn't start. The Broncos kept right tackle George Foster in the starting lineup, and might continue with that until Meadows shows he is 100 percent.
--CB Karl Paymah played late in the game against Cincinnati because Darrent Williams had back spasms. Paymah is the dime cornerback, but the Broncos don't play much dime defense.
--LB D.J. Williams didn't play much against Cincinnati. He comes off
the field in nickel situations, and the Broncos used a nickel defense
almost the entire game. Williams can't get on the field in nickel
situations because Ian Gold and Al Wilson stay in.
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