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The Denver Broncos (almost) control their own destiny

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 24, 2016

 

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos returned from their bye week with the cards almost entirely in their hands.

Through the first 10 games of the season, the Denver Broncos (7-3) put themselves in a favorable position for the rest of the season: win and you’re in. However, making the playoffs isn’t the only goal.

“Our number one goal is to make the playoffs. Then we start getting past that to getting the number one seed,” nose tackle Sylvester Williams said. “Obviously, once you get that you want to win it all. That’s our goal, and that’s what we are striving for.”

While they do control their own fate when it comes to making the playoffs, the Broncos would still need a little help to get to their final destination: the No. 1 seed, and the AFC West crown.

Credit: ESPN
Credit: ESPN

If the Broncos were able to win out—against the most difficult strength of schedule remaining in the league—they would finish 13-3. If the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots both won out, except in their respective games against Denver, they would both finish 13-3 as well.

In this scenario, the Broncos would have the tiebreaker over the Patriots due to the head-to-head victory. Then, it would come down to the tiebreaker with Oakland, which would go down to the fifth tie-breaking procedure: “Strength of victory.” Strength of victory or “SOV” is determined by the combined winning percentages of the teams that you have beat.

Since this changes weekly, it is impossible to determine which team would have the higher strength of victory right now, meaning the Broncos technically do not control their own destiny. As it stands, the Raiders hold a slight advantage in SOV but the Broncos tough road to the finish line will almost certainly give them a bump.

The difference between finishing first and second in the AFC West, in this scenario, is a huge one. The winner of the division is likely to have a top-two spot in the AFC, which would mean a first-round bye and at least one home game, if not home field advantage. Second place would then fall all the way to the wild card spot, which would mean playing on the road in the very first week of the playoffs.

Hypotheticals aside, head coach Gary Kubiak keeps his teams focus on what they can control, and not on anything outside of the facility.

“As you look around the league it’s going to be so competitive the last six weeks because [there are] a lot of football teams in the race and we all play each other,” he said. “It will come down to how we play, that’s what I tell the guys, it won’t come down to anything else, it will come down to how we play, so we try to stay focused on that.”

After talking to multiple players, it is clear that the coach’s message is sinking in within the clubhouse.

“Our goal is to take it game by game, and our next game is Kansas City,” Williams said. “That’s our main focus. We take it one game at a time and our next opponent is Kansas City.”

The Chiefs (7-3) will have the biggest impact on the final six games of the Broncos season as they play them twice, this Sunday and in Week 16. While every one of the final six games is important, Sunday’s game means a little more since the Chiefs are a division foe and a home game at that.

“Every game is going to be pretty much ‘must win’ so we got to have the right mindset going in,” defensive end Jared Crick said. “We can’t look at it as the whole picture; we have to look at it one opponent after the other.”

With six weeks of football left to play there is still plenty of movement in the playoff picture for the Broncos. While the No. 1 seed is very much a realistic possibility, so is the possibility of missing the postseason entirely. Saddle up.

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