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Broncos’ playoff hopes take a hit with drubbing in Detroit

Saturday night was not a must-win, but the loss still dampens Denver's hopes for a postseason berth.
Broncos Lions Football
Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 16:40:52-05

If the Broncos were to lose one of their final four games of the season, it was Saturday night in Detroit.

The Lions, after all, reside in the NFC and thus have less to do with tiebreakers when it comes to AFC playoff seeding.

Still, with the loss, the Broncos’ playoff odds dipped to 21% by the end of the Sunday slate, according to the New York Times playoff calculator, which simulates tens of thousands of outcomes to arrive at its numbers.

For weeks, 10 wins has appeared to be the magic number for the Broncos. That remained the case after Week 15, but with less certainty than in weeks past.

According to the simulator, which takes pure win-loss outcomes and doesn’t factor in the optics of a 42-17 drubbing, the Broncos have just a 77% chance at the playoffs even if they win their final three games and reach 10 wins.

The number previously stood near 90%, before Week 15 wins by the Bengals, Colts, Bills, Texans and Browns – all teams that stand ahead of Denver in the AFC standings.

The good news for the Broncos is that all three of their remaining opponents are on backup quarterbacks, and two of the three are playing under interim head coaches. All three have losing records.

Here’s what the final three games look like:

Week 16: vs. Patriots (3-10)
Week 17: vs. Chargers (5-9)
Week 18: @ Raiders (6-8)