DENVER -- On the night before Christmas,
Nobody in BroncosCountry might be so stimulated,
Because the Broncos already could be eliminated.
After the disgusting, distressing defeat to the Patriots Sunday, all the players, from Trevor Siemian on offense to Chris Harris Jr. on defense, were talking about how the Broncos had to win their final two games to have a chance to get into the postseason.
Coach Gary Kubiak admitted he didn’t know the playoff scenarios.
Well, I’m here to tell them and you on thedenverchannel.com that before the Broncos play on Christmas Night, they may have no chance to advance.
If the Dolphins beat the Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 24, the Broncos’ final two games will mean nothing, unless they’re into garbage-time stats and worthless victories.
Even if Miami does fall and the Broncos should win in Kansas City, their chances are two: Slim and barely above none.
Let me help out Kubiak, Siemian, Harris et al, and the rest of you who are fretting.
The Dolphins are 9-5 after their victory over the Jets on Saturday. While the Broncos have gone South, the Dolphins keep traveling North. Following a 4-0 start to the regular season, the Broncos have managed an abysmal 4-6 record, and they could end up winning only 4 of 10.
The Dolphins have won 8 of 9 after a bad start. They are coached by former Broncos’ offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who got an interview for the Denver head coaching job after the 2014 season, but it was merely a courtesy. Instead, he went to Chicago with John Fox. The past off-season Gase, who is 38, was named the youngest head coach in the league.
Wouldn’t it be odd retribution if he kept the Broncos out of the postseason for the first time since 2010?
Here’s how it works:
The Broncos, of course, will not be the AFC West champion. Even though Kansas City was defeated on a last-second field goal by Tennessee – remember the Titans from the previous week – the Chiefs still will be a wild-card team – because the Raiders edged the Chargers 19-16 shortly after the Broncos-Patriots game was over. K.C. is 10-4; Oakland is 11-3, and a game behind only the 12-2 Patriots in the overall standings of the AFC.
The wild-card tiebreaker for the playoffs is (1) head-to-head results and (2) conference record.
The Dolphins and the Broncos don’t play this year.
The Dolphins are 7-3 in the conference.
The Broncos are 5-5.
If the Dolphins prevail over the Bills, at the worst, they will finish 7-4 in the conference (with a final home game against the Patriots).
Some may recall that the Dolphins beat the Patriots in the finale last season to give the Broncos the No. 1 seed in the AFC. And the Broncos got the AFC Championship in Denver, and won against those pesky Patriots.
So, if the Dolphins win one of their final two, they beat the Broncos in the second tiebreaker. If they lose both, the tiebreaker goes to record against common opponents, and the Broncos do have the advantage there – if they defeat Kansas City and Oakland.
The common opponents are San Diego, Cincinnati, Tennessee and New England. The Dolphins would have two losses to New England and one to Cincinnati and Tennessee, with a victory over the Chargers – and a 2-4 mark. The Broncos are 2-3 against Cincinnati, Tennessee, San Diego and New England (with victories over the Bengals and a 1-1 split with the Chargers).
Even then, though, at 10-6, the Broncos would have to worry about the Titans and the Ravens, but not the Texans if they all finish at 9-7 or 10-6. The Broncos obviously lost to the Titans, they beat the Texans and former starting quarterback Brock Osweiler. (He was replaced in the second quarter; the Texans won behind Tom Savage, and it is assumed Savage will be the starter in the last two games.)
Baltimore and the Broncos have not played. But if the Ravens finish with two victories, they’ll have a better record than the Broncos in the conference.
The Broncos could have won Sunday. Blame Kubiak and the offensive coaches, the awful offensive line, the running backs, Jordan Norwood (what was he doing returning punts?), Trevor Siemian for a critical interception and Demaryius Thomas for a failure to catch one pass and drop another.
If the Grinch, or the Dolphins, steal Christmas, the Broncos have nobody to blame but themselves.