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Published on 12/15/2009 at Tue Dec 15 14:30.
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It’s that time of year again, folks: time to take our weekly look at how the AFC and Denver Broncos playoff picture is shaping up. Here are how the teams rank if the season ended today, with notes on what’s to come.


(Seed, team, record, AFC record)

First Round Bye
1. Indianapolis Colts (13-0, 9-0)
2. San Diego Chargers (10-3, 7-3)

Division Winners
3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4, 6-3)
4. New England Patriots (8-5, 6-4)

Wild Card
5. Denver Broncos (8-5, 6-4)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6, 6-3)

On the cusp
Baltimore Ravens (7-6, 6-4)
Miami Dolphins (7-6, 5-4)
New York Jets (7-6, 5-5)

If the season ended today…
Same as last week, although the race tightened quite a bit. The Broncos would travel to New England to face the Patriots. The Broncos defeated the Patriots at home in Week 5, 20-17 in overtime.

No margin for error
The Broncos used up their margin for error against Indianapolis. The Ravens are one loss behind Denver but hold the tiebreaker after smashing the Broncos 30-7 in Week 8. Then again, if the Broncos lose and Jacksonville, Baltimore, Miami, and New York all win (hey, it nearly happened last week), the AFC’s two wild card spots would go into five-team-tiebreaker mode. In other words, conference record. After that it goes to common games (minimum of four), then strength of victory, then strength of schedule. Who else is happy we put a whooping on the Chiefs?

Chargers can clinch third straight AFC West title
In a way, the Chargers do not control their own destiny this week. They can clinch the AFC West if, and only if, the Broncos lose to the Raiders, regardless if they win or lose against Cincinnati. And believe it or not, the AFC West is still winnable, especially if the Bengals can pull the upset. The Broncos have to win out, though (see that note about “margin for error” above).

Bottom Line
According to, the Broncos have a 76.3% chance of making the playoffs in 2009, a whopping 0.3% increase from last week.

Again, if they win out, they’re in. They face Oakland at home this week, then at Philadelphia, then home against the Chiefs.

  • jonkrause

    I really want the West, REALLY want! Santa… I put in a request… Broncos 2009 AFC West Champs

  • indymike

    @jon you could want, but its not happening. the last thing the colts fans want is san diego to do well. with pats, and steelers on melt down the chargers are the only legit. challenge to colts going to the superbowl. indy fans, and the rest of the afc would love to face broncos/orton in playoffs rather than chargers/rivers.

    not going to happen though. i give you almost zero chance of beating the eagles in philly. that makes you guys 10-6 at best…pretty sure san diego will won of three to clinch.

    you should be happy with your moral victories, and a wildcard.
    trust me your broncos do not want to play colts in indy.remember that beat down the chargers gave you the second time? magnify that by 10, and thats what would happen next time. peyton will not throw 3 picks, and you cant expect your beloved chick beating wr. to have another 20 catches.. even it is against the 2 or 3 string rookie scrubs

    the bottom line the broncos are an avg team, that should be ecstatic about their season, but there is no need to be delusional…which kyle obviously is.

  • the real oldest fan

    so, the boy wonder inherited one of the best offensive lines in the league, a terrific set of first line receivers, two excellent tight ends, got a q.b. that he wanted, installed his system and ends up with a very mediocre offense. who are you going to draft that will make you better? maybe a once in a generation q.b.? how good would the broncos be with this defense and cutler not playing from behind all the time? in the long run,talent will always trump systems. the boy will be paying for his preseason mistakes for a long time. sincerely, the real oldest fan.

  • broncobobmeridian

    The real oldest fan:
    This just in: CUTLER SUCKS!

  • Rob_Bronco

    Cutler who? We're waaaaaay past Cutler. We have a legit shot at the playoffs, but I don't see any possibility of us winning the West. The Chargers may slip against the Bengals, but that's it. No matter who the Broncos play, it's going to be a tough road. The offense just doesn't have a QB that can WIN the game when it's all on the line.

    To answer IndyMike's question – the Broncos do need a franchise QB, and we all know that Kyle isn't it. He should be backing up a quality QB. Simms is out. Brandstarter is #3.

  • robtink242

    there's a a lot of truth in your “theory”. Maybe it's just me but i'm past the Cutler era mentally. I do question McD in that none of the QB he tried where closet to equal in value or potential. Currently the QB with most potential is Bradstater solely on preseason. He isn't Cutler. I be honest if Cutler was released today we should be knocking on his door. He is suffering for a horrible offensive team that lacks the offensive mind of Shanny. They cant even find a number 1 receiver. Hester, Knotts, and Bennent all suck. Major step down from Marshall, Royal, and Stokley.

  • steeplebomb

    Silly comment. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is points. Do you know what our points per game rank was last year? 16th. Thats pretty mediocre. Jay Cutler is a mediocre quarterback and Josh McDaniels robbed the Bears blind. I'm not completely satisfied with Orton but at least he doesn't lead the league in interceptions. Sincerely, the really real oldest fan

  • steeplebomb

    Oh thank you indymike for showing us our delusional ways! I don't know what I would do if it wasn't for you kind Indianapolis country folk telling me what to think about my football team.

    You are right! The Broncos are average and even if they do make the playoffs, will surely lose. In fact, if we do, I will petition the NFL to just cancel the game outright. Seeing as you have already seen the future, its pointless right? Instead, I suggest we have a peyton manning celebration in Indiana. No expenses will be spared. I want to rent out the biggest trailer park in the state. School children will come from far and wide to make macaroni pictures of His Greatness as toothless angels in poorly fitting belly shirts descend from the sky.

  • robtink242

    Overrated yeah. But mediocre i don't think so. His pocket presence ranks with Peyton Manning, His arm strength is incredible, His speed is deceiving. Jay has the making to be a great QB. He was a star in the making in Denver. His biggest problem is his decision making. You probably going say that Orton has more wins which is true. Orton also had Better defenses and an outstanding ST. Jays wins his games Orton wins off defenses and ST.

  • steeplebomb

    Fair enough. 'Mediocre' is probably too harsh. But I still think we got a great deal in the trade in terms of Orton and draft picks (whether those picks actually pan out is a different story). And I wasn't going to mention wins. I don't like that statistic because so many factors go into wins. Its not a reliable explanation of skill. Cutler is better than Orton, but I just don't see him being 2 first round picks better

  • robtink242

    Thats a win for us. But its a horrible job of managing a team by the GM. The Vikings, Redskins and even the Lions have a better chance of succeeding with Him that the Bears. seeing that they have better receivers and running games. the Bears number 1 WR is an ex-CB go figure.

  • kerry

    you better do more to Santa then just beg. lol.

  • kerry

    yeah at the end of the day what matters is points. but for some magical reason we are scoring fewer this year then last last.

    our scoring offense was 16th last year. yeah thats true. guess what is is now? 20th in scoring and 17th in total offense. the huge difference is our defense.

  • kerry

    i agree with what you said but i still dont want Cutler back. but yes a new QB is needed after this season. Orton is pretty much tapped out at this point. we do need a QB with talent and playmaking ability. that isnt Orton.

  • steeplebomb

    As I said above, I'm not satisfied with Orton. I hope we don't give him a big contract. I really like him as a person: he seems really down to earth. But the bottom line is he is one of the limiting factors in this offense. We shouldn't settle for him. If Brandstater continues to develop, he could be an option. I'm no draft guru but I would like Bradford if he fell to us. Or we go get a Matt Cassel clone from somewhere.

  • robtink242

    not to mention the defense contributed to some of those points.

  • robtink242

    Its a shame when Lee Evans, Bernard Berrian and Darrius Heyward-Bey makes more than Brandon Marshall. He probably has more catches than them combine and more touchdowns than Heyward-Bey has catches. Dummervil needs a raise as well.

    Anyone knows if Terrelle Pryor is entering the draft?

  • robtink242

    for the past 4 years i've getting really into the college games. This year is QB rich. We should find a QB easily. Don't know if we should. think Bradstater and Orton competes for starting spot or get a solid vet. But I would love for us to draft Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 draft if he enters.

  • indymike

    typo: one not won..whoops

    @steeplebomb.. you make my case when you try and redirect conversation with personal. what are you 12? besides is trailer parks the best you can come up with?? fyi- indy has a metro population of 1.5 mil..not ny but not rural either. just another sign of your delusion. do you really think the rest of the country views denver as a fast paced cosmopolitan hahaha..if we re country, your def. mountain folk.

    ive been to denver, and to be honest it has its good points, but its kind of dirty, has alot of crime, and is i dont think you should be attacking other cities.

    my point simply was that instead of filibusturing about what ifs, and if only' might want to appreciate what your team is.

    its not one of the elite teams. elite teams do not have a 3 1/2 game lead in week 6, and then be 2 back by week 14!! elite teams do not lose: to the redskins; 4 in a row; or have all of their losses be in double digits!!

    like your city, your mediocre team has a few bright spots..but talk of winning in the playoffs against us,or san diego is just wishful thinking, and delusional. getting to the playoffs should suffice for bronco fans.there is no shame in that

  • SivNiz

    If we're such an insignificant playoff team why are you trolling a Broncos fan website? Go Broncos!

  • broncos_diva

    It is called optimism and faith in our team. We couldn't call ourselves broncos fans if we didn't have those two things. Broncos fans are passionate about our football as I'm sure you are. Don't come here bashing folks for their optimism and faith. Do you really have nothing better to do with your time?

  • kerry

    well im no draft Guru either but i watch a TON of college football and read draft reports when i can. im not sold on Bradford because of his shoulder injury then he reinjured the same shoulder. that would be like drafting Chad Pennington. Jimmy Clausen would be very good for our offense. he already played in our offense at Notre Dame. he has good mobility, good arm (certainly better then Ortons) and good accuracy. i think he would be perfect. unless McD wants to go with Brandstater in which case we should sell the farm for Ndamukung Suh.

  • TJ

    Careful, indymike. The Colts are one Peyton Manning injury away from being a mediocre team as well. Manning is what makes all of those receivers appear to be great. If it was anyone else behind center those boys would be average at best (Wayne & Clark excluded).

    And I'm sick of Caldwell getting all of the praise and “coach of the year” crap when anyone with a marginal football IQ knows that it's Manning's offense. Caldwell collects a paycheck and that's it!

  • kerry

    i dont think Pryor is that good. too much of a vince Young type QB. one read and run is how he is. Jake Locker on the other hand is awesome and would be great. think Ben Roethlisberger. great arm, ability to extend the play, great size and mobility. thats who id want in 2011. but this year i think Clausen would be good for us.

  • kerry

    i think he is only a sophomore. so i dont think so.

  • robtink242

    Pryor is a winner and a more of a QB than VY. He is still young and has a wow factor. Tim Tebow as much as i like the Gaitors i know he's not a QB. Pryor has all the tools to make him a NFL QB. He has to be smarter than VY also

  • steeplebomb

    Jake Locker is a stud. Big fan. I'm a little less warm on Clausen because I hate ND. Though Clausen's rated very well, I just can't get Brady Quinn out of my head.

  • Lady McBeth

    We Love 'Kong Suuuuuuuuuuh!'

    Bronco fan here in Lincoln NE (grew up in Lakewood and Wheat Ridge). I wouldn't hold your breath on Denver being able to draft Suh. As much as I would love seeing Suh pound on the rest of the AFC West, it's going to be a bidding/trading war come this spring…

  • indymike


    what iam doing here? somehow i do not think i am the first to post on an opposing teams website! i like to talk crap like all fans. sometimes it gets a little old preaching to the choir. its part of the fun of being a fan…shouldnt take it so seriously.

    i would have moved on to jacksonville by now..but i noticed an incredible amount of hubris from bronco fans before, and after the game. there isnt nothing wrong with confidence, and optimism…but reality should have a small role in your opinions.

    i do not claim to have insiders team info, but i agree peyton is hell of alot more important than caldwell…but saying that the colts would be average without him is true for any team without their best player. saints without brees, chargers minus rivers,steelers minus polamalu,or the broncos minus marshall… its all about the same.

  • indymike

    whoops, ” nothing wrong” not ” isnt nothing wrong” iam to lazy to proof.. gl with the raiders..i want you guys to keep the ravens out of the playoffs

  • guest

    you're talking up pryor like the second coming of elway, but dont even know what year he is, or if he is going into the draft?

    I like locker, but he's staying in school. bradford is an injury risk, but a heck of a talent. clausen would be good for us, but will be gone by the time we pick with chicago's pick (which still may be a top 10)- i think he is the first qb off the board. dont know if snead is going into the draft this year, but he is solid. of course you have mccoy and tebow as seniors. also that kid from central michigan- lefever??- who is a decent middle rounder.

    i wouldnt mind seeing mccoy late in orange and blue if he is there in the second when we pick, definately not tebowthough… just not a fit in our offense. mccoy gives an arm who can go downfield, as well as some decent wheels for when things break down.

  • guest

    i forgot tony pike. he's an option too if we still are looking for a qb in the third rd.

  • kerry

    yeah Suh may be impossible to get. but of he could be had id love to see him as a Denver Bronco. we would probably have to move to the number 1 pick and that would be expensive in both picks and payroll.

  • kerry

    if we could get a guy like Eric Berry or Ndamukung Suh this year it would be worth skipping a QB in the high rounds. but to be honest i think McD is like how Shanahan was with RB's. he may think he can transform any QB into a star. 6th round Brady and 7th round Cassel. though i wouldnt say Cassel is a star.

  • CaliBronco

    Sorry, I can't let that last comment stand. That equation doesn't hold water. I'll give you that the Chargers would be utter crap without Rivers, but you can't equate Marshall and Polamalu with PM. You are giving way too much credit to Polamalu for the Steelers meltdown. As for B-Marsh, there's no question he is an elite WR, but the Broncos would not disintegrate without him. Sorry, we are much more a complete team than Indy for that matter. Our defense is far superior, as is our ST, and o-line. Put it this way, if we switched QBs, where Indy has been stoppable, we would not be. And with Orton, Indy wins 5 maybe 6 (Some ESPN analysts have even said no more than 3!). You just cannot equate a HOF quarterback, arguably one of the best if not the best to have ever played the game, with B-Marsh, Polamalu, Brees and Rivers. To say otherwise is just fantasy.

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