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Denver Broncos vs. Houston Texans: Here’s how much this game means for Broncos’ playoff hopes

According to The New York Times' handy playoff simulator, the outcome of Sunday’s game has colossal playoff implications.
Browns Broncos Football
Posted at 9:12 PM, Dec 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-02 23:12:22-05

The Denver Broncos are the NFL’s hottest team entering their Week 13 matchup with the Texans. Their five-game winning streak, however, may mean very little if it’s snapped Sunday in Houston.

At least not if you’ve got the playoffs on your mind.

According to The New York Times’ handy playoff calculator, which simulates tens of thousands of outcomes to determine a team’s odds to make the playoffs based on wins and losses in its upcoming schedule, the outcome of Sunday’s game has colossal playoff implications.

The Broncos (6-5) enter the game tied with the Texans and Colts for the seventh seed in the AFC and have a 36% chance to make the playoffs, according to the simulator.

If Denver wins the game against Houston, those odds jump drastically to around 60%. If the Broncos lose, it becomes an upward battle toward a playoff berth, according to the simulator, which gives a 6-6 Broncos team about a 20% chance of making it to the postseason.

As we’ve said here on for a couple of weeks, though, the Broncos’ target – win or lose in Houston Sunday – is 10 wins. If they reach double digits in the win column, even with a loss to the Texans, it’s likely that the Broncos make the playoffs. A loss in Houston would simply necessitate the Broncos winning four of five to close out the season.

Reaching just nine wins makes the playoffs a long shot, according to the simulator, even if one of the nine comes in Houston.

The games remaining on the schedule are:

  • Week 13: @ Houston
  • Week 14: @ Chargers
  • Week 15: @ Lions
  • Week 16: vs. Patriots
  • Week 17: vs. Chargers
  • Week 18: @ Raiders

On paper, it’s not hard to find four wins there, as Houston and Detroit are the only teams on that slate with winning records entering Week 13 and no one on that list – or anywhere else in the NFL – is as hot as the Broncos.
However, the Broncos have lost three of the last five to the Chargers and haven’t beaten the Raiders in the seven contests since they moved to Las Vegas.

It’s why a win Sunday in Houston would behoove the Broncos – not just because the two teams are neck-and-neck for the final playoff spot, but also for a little breathing room in the quest for 10 wins and the right to play more January football.

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