The Denver Broncos have a chance to go from 1-4 to 9-7, win the AFC West and find themselves in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
The feat would be nothing short of miraculous in the Mile High City and Denver has multiple ways to get in.
They can simply win against Kansas City and Kyle Orton, bent on revenge.
They can tie the Chiefs and hope the Raiders tie the Chargers, or lose to KC and have Oakland lose to San Diego to be playoff bound.
Of course, it would be optimum to win and get in as no team wants to enter the postseason losing three straight.
If Denver gets in, they will be the fourth seed—that much is known.
What’s still up in the thin air is which team they would play at new Mile High.
Going into this last, pivotal week of the regular season, the Broncos could host either Pittsburgh (11-4) or Baltimore (11-4), both of the AFC North.
Because both team’s records are the same, they’re fighting for the division, just as Denver and Oakland are. The difference is both the Steelers and Ravens are in; only their seeding is left to be decided.
So here’s how it all breaks down and how Denver’s playoff opponent will be decided, should the Broncos make the playoffs:
1. Baltimore beats Cincinnati – Denver hosts Pittsburgh
2. Baltimore loses to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh beats Cleveland – Denver hosts Baltimore
3. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh lose – Denver hosts Pittsburgh
4. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh lose and Houston wins – Denver hosts Pittsburgh, then would face Houston in the Divisional round if they beat the Steelers
If you’re a Broncos fan, you hope for scenario two, and here’s why.
The Ravens are predicated on being one of the most dominant defensive teams in football, while their offense often leaves something to be desired. Five times this season Baltimore has scored 20 or less points in a game, going 2-3 in those contests.
Denver matches up better with Baltimore because it shapes up to be a lower-scoring, grind-it-out type match up that benefits the Broncos’ No. 1 rushing attack. And a close game at the end also sets up better for Tim Tebow to have a chance to pull out a last-second victory.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has a dangerous and innovative passing attack, and the experienced Ben Roethlisberger could possibly pick the Broncos’ secondary apart if the two teams were to play. Big Ben has led his Steelers to three Super Bowls, most recently a loss last year to Green Bay, and he simply understands how to win in the playoffs. Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the game at leading his team to victory in the postseason, whereas Baltimore’s Joe Flacco is considered the weak link of a possible Ravens’ Super Bowl run.
Of course, the Broncos may rather play the Steelers in Denver than in Pittsburgh, but playing Baltimore first and gaining some confidence in the playoffs could benefit the younger Broncos team.
In either instance, both the Steelers and Ravens are great teams, with hard-hitting defenses and intelligent coaching—it would be difficult for Denver to defeat either one.
And in the end, none of this matters if Denver doesn’t take care of business, beat the Chiefs and make the playoffs.
It all comes down to this week—whether or not the Broncos can go from last to first in the AFC West and how the entire AFC playoff picture will pan out—which makes for some extremely exciting and enthralling football this Sunday.
Denver hosts Kansas City at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium Sunday at 2:05 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on CBS.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being your Denver Broncos Examiner, Rich is your CSU Rams Examiner and Kurtzman also writes for Blake Street Bulletin, Stadium Journey, Bleacher Report, and Mile High Hoops.
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