Broncos in good shape for wild-card berth

FRANK SCHWAB Updated: December 15, 2009 at 12:00 am • Published: December 15, 2009

ENGLEWOOD – Josh McDaniels didn’t duplicate Jim Mora’s “Playoffs?” rant, but he made it clear that his Denver Broncos shouldn’t be worried yet about their playoff positioning.

“I think we have a lot of room to improve,” McDaniels said. “(Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis) was an opportunity to learn what it’s like to play against the very best at this time of the year and see what happens when you make too many errors).”

While that may be true, the Broncos are in good shape for a wild-card spot with three games remaining, even if catching the Chargers for the AFC West title seems farfetched. Denver is 8-5, and the Chargers are 10-3.

The good news for the Broncos is if they beat the 4-9 Raiders this week and the 3-10 Chiefs in the regular-season finale, they would win almost all tiebreaker situations against the Chargers. Still, the Broncos need the Chargers to lose at least twice to have any chance at a division title. And the Chargers clinch the division if the Broncos lose to either the Raiders or Chiefs.

The wild-card race is a lot rosier for the Broncos. They lead all second-place teams by at least one game and clinch a playoff spot with a 3-0 finish. With two wins – Denver has Oakland, Kansas City and 9-4 Philadelphia remaining - the worst the Broncos could do is tie for a wild-card spot. Wins against the Chiefs and Raiders would also help the Broncos in wild-card tiebreaker situations.

Denver would have an 8-4 record against the AFC if it beats Oakland and Kansas City, and conference record is the second tiebreaker after head-to-head. Among the four 7-6 teams, Denver has lost to Baltimore and hasn’t played the other three. Jacksonville is the only 7-6 team that has fewer than four conference losses.

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