Never say never? Broncos’ playoff chances not impossible, but unlikely

Sports

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) after a play against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) — Imagine watching an action movie where one of the main characters is tasked with escaping a burning building. To avoid being trapped and succumbing to their dramatized death, they must sprint the length of the floor with track-star speed before a stop-drop-and roll underneath the only remaining safe exit that is seconds away from collapsing.

Now envision that character being the slowest offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos.

Only in a movie can we expect that scenario to play out in favor of the underdog.

Denver’s odds of escaping the regular season’s deathgrip for the sixth-straight year are less than 0.1%, according to FiveThirtyEight. In order for that Hollywood script to result in a shocking reality, Denver must win its final two games — in Los Angeles against the Chargers in Week 17 followed by a regular-season finale win over the Chiefs in Denver.

But even a victorious final two weeks to reach the nine-win plateau means nothing without specific results from at least six — possibly seven — other games over the final two weeks.

If the Miami Dolphins (7-7) defeat the New Orleans Saints Monday night, the Broncos (7-8) would need the following results to happen:

  • Week 17
    • Rams win/tie vs. Ravens
    • Titans win/tie vs. Dolphins
    • Browns win vs. Steelers
  • Week 18
    • Steelers win/tie vs. Ravens
    • Patriots win/tie vs. Dolphins
    • Chargers win/tie vs. Raiders
    • Bengals win/tie vs. Browns

If the Dolphins lose to the Saints Monday night, the Broncos would need the following results to happen:

  • Week 17
    • Rams win/tie vs. Ravens
    • Browns win vs. Steelers
  • Week 18
    • Steelers win vs. Ravens
    • Patriots win/tie vs. Dolphins
    • Chargers win/tie vs. Raiders
    • Bengals win/tie vs. Browns

Simply, the Broncos must win out and get help. Metaphorically, they need to miraculously escape the fire-laden structure, hope the other six teams ahead of them leave a salvaging rope, and drag them to safety to avoid getting caught by the post-destruction explosion.

It is impossible for the Broncos (7-8) to finish anywhere other than the No. 7 seed in the AFC. Even if the Bills and Colts dropped their final two games respectively to finish 9-8, Denver would lose the three-way tiebreaker.

Shockingly, no Broncos defensive players received any Pro Bowl nominations. Not even Justin Simmons, who can set a career-high in single-season interceptions if he records one in the final two weeks.

Denver’s defense as a whole has been a tremendous supporting cast opposite an offense whose expected stars are memorizing their lines, but forgetting them when all the lights and eyes are upon them.

As far as the coaching staff goes, their escape rope may already be burned. Though we won’t find out until the credits roll in January.

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