Chance of Broncos making playoffs? Ask Scooby-Doo
It’s what Scooby-Doo said when he and the gang were in trouble in another spellbinding mystery, and it applies to the Denver Broncos’ playoff chances after a 13-10 loss at Tennessee.
At 8-5, the Broncos are two games behind both Kansas City and Oakland in the AFC West and hanging on to the second wild-card spot in the conference. Making that position all the more precarious is the final stretch of New England this week, at Kansas City on Christmas and the finale at home against the Raiders.
Though the Broncos likely got some help after their loss to the Titans with Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill getting hurt in a win over the Cardinals and the Pats beating the Ravens on Monday, three facts remain.
The Broncos’ offense, or lack thereof, has been exposed. There is no there there. Denver’s defense, magnificent as it has played this season, is vulnerable to the run, particularly against balanced offenses. And the Broncos have to find two wins against the Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders — all teams that have good offenses — during the final three weeks of the season.
Seriously, where are two wins against those three teams? The Titans ran for 180 yards, while Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota was 6-for-20 with 88 yards passing.
A safe prediction is that Tom Brady will have better day than 6-for-20 on Sunday in Denver. Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian had the best game of his season against the Chiefs last month and it still wasn’t enough in Denver. Now the Broncos are going to K.C.? Siemian isn’t throwing for 300-plus yards at Arrowhead.
The Raiders’ Latavius Murray and company ran all over the Broncos. Oakland had 218 yards of rushing against Denver, so the fact that Derek Carr’s pinky is affecting his accuracy isn’t much of an argument.
The Broncos aren’t going 3-0. I don’t see how the Broncos go 2-1, and it’s more likely 1-2 (Week 17 vs. Oakland).
Whoever doesn’t win the AFC West, the Chiefs or the Raiders (both 10-3), pretty much has the first wild card locked up.
The Dolphins (8-5) are at the Jets, at the Bills and home for New England. Even without Tannehill, that’s likely 2-1 and 10-6 at a minimum. The Jets are dreadful. Also remember that the Fish play New England in Week 17, when the Pats are likely be resting everyone. Miami should finish at 10-6, and the Broncos need to go 2-1 to match that.
The Broncos finishing 9-7 probably won’t do it either.
The Ravens (7-5) finish with the Eagles, at Steelers, at Bengals, so they’re 9-7. Baltimore and Denver haven’t played, so the next tiebreaker, is record within the AFC. The Ravens are 7-2 within conference and the Broncos are 5-4. If the Ravens beat the Bengals in Week 17, then they’re, at worst, 8-4 in the conference, and that would force the Broncos to run the table, not happening.
If the Ravens go 3-0, beating the Steelers to win the AFC North, then Pittsburgh still finishes 9-7, its other two games are the Bengals and the Browns, and will possess an 8-4 AFC mark. Again, Denver has to go 3-0.
Is it possible for the Broncos to make the playoffs? Yes. But it’s really along the lines of Jim Carrey saying, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
New England in the AFC. They’re not unbeatable without Rob Gronkowski, but until we see anyone prove otherwise, the Pats are the team to beat.
The Cowboys hold the top spot in the NFC, but maybe it’s time to start including the New York Giants. Eli Manning isn’t the best quarterback in his family but has a knack for finding a way to get on a hot streak this time of year. Just ask the Patriots.
Danger, Will Robinson
This is the time of year when you start to see teams coming together. It’s hard to argue against Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell?
Detroit, at 9-4, is living on a wing and a prayer, barely beating Chicago last week. As much as Green Bay’s defense is questionable, betting against Aaron Rodgers this time of year is a bad idea.
Tampa Bay, any one? You shut down the Saints’ offense and you’ve got my attention.
As for Seattle, I’ve got no clue, nothing. The Seahawks should finish 11-5-1 because they play the NFC West the rest of the way, but, well I’ve got no clue.
I think the Niners, even with a win, are worse than Cleveland after last week’s loss to the Jets.
And speaking of the Browns’ quest for 0-16, it’s just as hard to go winless as it is undefeated in today’s NFL. They have at the Bills, the Chargers at home and at Steelers.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @cfreud.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.