Let me just go ahead and jinx this right now, last season despite a three game lead going into the final three games of the season the Denver Broncos were not able to make it into the playoffs under coach Mike Shanahan and led by quarterback Jay Cutler. There were a couple of close calls, there was the three incomplete passes in a row to Brandon Stokley in the Buffalo Bills end zone for instance. Hey, it happens… Usually to Denver.
As it stands the Broncos (7-4) currently own the fifth seed in the playoffs and short of a San Diego Chargers (8-3, third seed) nose dive probably won’t get a better seed. San Diego would need to lose two of their next five and the Broncos would have to win five of their next five in order to reclaim first place in the AFC West. The Indianapolis Colts (11-0, 1st seed) can clinch a first round bye with a win this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans (who happen to be in the playoff race themselves in the 11th seed at 5-6) and the Cincinnati Bengals (8-3, second seed) still face the Chargers and Minnesota Vikings this season.
That leaves us with the New England Patriots (7-4, third seed) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5, sixth seed). The Patriots don’t appear to have too many speed bumps for the remainder of their season with a quick glance, but they have a game against two division rivals in the Bills and Miami Dolphins (who would love to ruin the Patriots shot at the playoffs), as well as a game against the Jaguars and Houston Texans. The Jaguars have nothing but trouble a head with games against the Texans, Colts and Patriots.
What is scary to me are the omissions from this playoff list; the Baltimore Ravens (6-5, seventh seed) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, eighth seed), either team is capable of winning out the rest of the season- the Steelers almost did it last week against the Ravens, without Ben Roethlisberger even. Both teams deserve to be in the playoffs. What’s interesting is that with the exception of the Colts (whom the Broncos play two weeks from now), the only team that is ranked ahead of Denver in the playoff hunt that the Broncos have lost to are the Chargers. We all know that we also beat them, in San Diego (which is where the teams would meet should they play in January) already this season. We own them. I mean we owned them when Josh McDaniels was with the Patriots and 50% of the time he’s been our head coach.
Other teams on the AFC Playoff bubble:
New York Jets (6-6, 9th seed), Miami Dolphins (5-6, 10th seed) and Houston Texans (5-6, twelth seed).