DENVER – There are three weeks left in the season and the Broncos have a one-game lead in the AFC West.
In other words, it’s time to talk playoffs.
1. IF THE BRONCOS WIN ALL THREE GAMES, THEY WIN THE DIVISION.
This is obvious, given that they have a one-game lead over the 7-6 Oakland Raiders and a two-game bulge over the 6-7 San Diego Chargers.
2. IF THE BRONCOS GO 2-1, THEY WIN THE DIVISION … AS LONG AS ONE OF THE WINS IS OVER THE CHIEFS IN WEEK 17.
This is because the Broncos need that game to guarantee themselves an advantage over the Raiders in the AFC West tiebreaker. If the Broncos win that game, they will be 4-2 in the division; the best Oakland can do is match that record with wins over the Chiefs and Chargers in Weeks 16 and 17.
If the Broncos go 2-1, but lose to Kansas City, they win the AFC West as long as the Raiders lose once. A 3-0 Oakland finish combined with a 2-1 Broncos record and a loss to the Chiefs in Week 17 would give the Raiders the AFC West crown on division record tiebreaker (Oakland would be 4-2; the Broncos would be 3-3).
3. IF THE BRONCOS GO 1-2, THEY WIN THE DIVISION … AS LONG AS THEY DEFEAT THE CHIEFS AND THE RAIDERS LOSE ONCE.
This would give the Broncos a 9-7 finish, and they would win a three-way tiebreaker with the Raiders and Chargers on division record. In this case, the only way the Broncos would lose the AFC West if they defeat the Chiefs is if the Raiders ran the table for a 10-6 finish.
If the Broncos go 1-2 and fall to the Chiefs, Denver could lose the division if the Raiders defeat Kansas City in Week 16 and San Diego in Week 17, since Oakland would have the superior division record. San Diego is irrelevant in this scenario; if the Broncos and Chargers are tied, the Broncos win on the third tiebreaker (common opponents).
If the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers are tied at 9-7, the Broncos would win the tiebreaker. This is because the Chargers would have to defeat the Raiders to finish 9-7, thus ensuring that the Raiders could not finish 4-2 in the AFC West. The tiebreaker would go to common opponents, which the Broncos would win, no matter how they do against the Chiefs in Week 17.
4. THE BRONCOS CANNOT CLINCH THE AFC WEST NEXT WEEK.
Even if the Broncos beat the Patriots and the Raiders lose to Detroit, Oakland can win the division with wins in its last two games and losses by the Broncos in their last two games.