The Broncos received a gift from Graham Ga-No last Thursday night.

It came in the form of one win.

They’ll need at least nine more to make the playoffs and 11 more to earn the AFC’s top seed.

Yes, Denver played well and did a lot of encouraging things on both sides of the ball (and made a lot of correctable mistakes, too), but the reality is if Gano makes a 50-yard field goal with four seconds left the team would sit at 0-1.

This isn’t baseball; the sample size is too small to chalk up a heartbreaking loss as “just one game.” Denver beating Carolina to open the season might be the difference between 12-4 and the No. 1 seed or 11-5 and in a dogfight for the AFC West.

Of course I’m speaking in hypotheticals here, but the point is 1-of-16 matters a helluva lot more than 1-of-162 and escaping with a win in a game the Broncos, frankly, didn’t have much business winning (at least not early) was massive.

The problem is Sunday and Monday could have been big for Denver as well, and the league did them no favors at all.

San Diego gagged away a 24-3 lead against the Chiefs, which would have put Kansas City in an early hole no one saw coming.

Oakland stole a game down in New Orleans; if the Saints even had a sliver of a defense Jack Del Rio’s bunch would be 0-1.

On Sunday night the Super Bowl “contenders” down in Arizona couldn’t find a way to beat New England without their two best players in Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

The cherry on top was Monday, when the team with the racist nickname in Washington got manhandled by the Steelers at home, propelling another one of the Broncos’ biggest threats for AFC supremacy to 1-0.

Before you scoff because I’m scoreboard / standings watching in Week 1, remember the Broncos have been to two of the last three Super Bowls in large part due to home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs after snagging the conference’s top seed.

You’re crazy if you think either the 2013 or 2015 Broncos were going into Foxborough and winning an AFC Championship Game. They needed every ounce of home field advantage and it paid off handsomely both years. Particularly during last season’s Super Bowl run when two terribly nerve-wracking wins were helped immensely by a raucous crowd.

If Denver is going to get back to yet another Super Bowl, they’ll again do it riding the defense, a unit that plays well anywhere but particularly thrives at home. Crowd noise can rattle even the likes of Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.

So here we go. We’re one week in and the Broncos got a shiny new toy under the Christmas tree Thursday night, and then a lump of coal on Sunday. Essentially anyone who can secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC is 1-0 (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh).

You could make a slight case Andrew Luck and the Colts have a shot, but considering their defense doesn’t appear capable of stopping anyone, let’s not worry about them. If the Broncos take care of business at home this weekend, then let’s really not worry with Indy sitting 0-2.

It’s going to be another dogfight for the Broncos this season. Remember just nine months ago, very late in the campaign, their seeding options ranged from No. 1 (which they secured) to missing the playoffs altogether.

While we will be focused on what happens in Weeks 13, 14, 15, etc., I’d put high odds on a Broncos fan at some point uttering the phrase, “If Carson Palmer could’ve just beaten Jimmy Garoppolo …” with a disgusted tone as this thing comes down to the wire in December.

All of this is why the NFL is so fun. Every game matters. Every week matters. And it’s never too early to start rooting against your rivals.

The Broncos came out of Week 1 with a wash. It could have been really good, but keep in mind it could have been really bad. We’ll do it all over again in just a handful of days.

For now, thanks Mr. Ga-No.

That was Christmas in September.