The Broncos could host three different teams in the Divisional Playoff Round on Jan. 17 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The 6-seed Steelers, the 5-seed Chiefs, or the 4-seed Texans. Who's your favorite? Who would you like to see at Mile High?
Well, here’s a look at the possibilities:
TEXANS (9-7, 4-SEED)
The Texans are my choice. It’s obvious they have the worst record of the three possible teams. I don’t think there’s any way the Texans would come to Denver and outscore the Broncos.
Houston QB Brian Hoyer is ranked 18th in the NFL with a passer rating of 91.4. Actually that’s better than Peyton Manning (67.9) and Brock Osweiler (86.4), but the Texans’ 19th ranked offense would be no match for the Broncos #1 defense.
One big worry is the Texans 3rd ranked defense and J.J. Watt. Watt led the league with 17.5 sacks from the left end, meaning he would be going against Broncos right tackle Michael Schofield. This is a QB’s nightmare. Schofield or Tyler Polumbus or whoever plays RT would need some help to stop Watt.
Still, I believe the Broncos best bet to make to the AFC Championship is to play the Houston Texans.
STEELERS (10-6, 6-SEED)
The Steelers have the best offense of the three contenders, ranked #3 in the NFL in total offense.
Big Ben has arguably the best trio of receivers in the league in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton.
The Broncos jumped out to a 27-10 lead over the Steelers behind a great first half by Brock Osweiler back on December 20. Big Ben brought the Steelers back with 380 yards passing and 3 TD passes. Brown had 16 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns as he torched Chris Harris Jr.
This offense scares me. The Steelers defense, not so much.
Ranked 30th in pass defense, Peyton Manning has a chance to do some damage, but the Steelers beat the Broncos already this season, and they’ve got an elite QB and receivers who make big plays. All it takes to win in a close playoff game is a big play or two.
I don’t want them to have another chance at beating the Broncos in Denver.
CHIEFS (11-5, 5-SEED)
Finally, the Chiefs. The same Chiefs who started the season 1-5, and finished the season 10-0 with a 29-13 win over the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Nov. 15.
The game that was the end of Peyton Manning (until now of course).
Peyton threw 4 interceptions and ended up with a 0.0 quarterback rating before he was benched for Brock Osweiler. The Chiefs defense is impressive, finishing in the top 10 in all categories.
KC was #1 in scoring defense with 6 touchdowns on the year, but their offense is a different story. Chiefs finished 27th in total offense.
Quarterback Alex Smith is efficient if not explosive. But any team that would be on an 11-game win streak would be cause for concern.
AFC PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS:
#5 Chiefs vs #4 Texans, Saturday.
#6 Steelers vs #3 Bengals, Saturday.
Broncos quotes on who they might play:
“You don’t know who you’re playing. We’ll find out Saturday night, which is kind of new. Usually you can’t find out until Sunday. It’s always an exciting time of the year, though, being in the playoffs and finding out who you’re going to play. I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
"It really doesn’t matter to me, honestly. I’m just so excited about the opportunity at hand. We got a first round bye; we have home field advantage. We have the opportunity to go win a Super Bowl. We’re in the tournament. You can’t talk about who you want to play because disappointments and expectations. I just keep a level head. We’ll find out on Saturday who we play."
“I would like the best team to win and come play us. That’s what I would like. It really doesn’t matter who we play. We just have to focus on what we do best, execute and we’ll be alright.”