The Denver Broncos are in the playoff hunt for the first time in what feels like forever. Riding their five-game win streak after beating the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Denver is within one game from being in a wildcard spot.

Denver Broncos are in the playoff hunt inside of the AFC

After Week 12 of the NFL season, the Broncos went from a 1-5 record to 6-5 after rattling off five straight wins against a variety of quality opponents. What does the AFC playoff picture look like?

If the playoffs began today, the seeding would be as follows:

  • 1: Baltimore Ravens – 9-3 – (AFC North)
  • 2: Kansas City Chiefs – 8-3 – (AFC West)
  • 3: Jacksonville Jaguars – 8-3 – (AFC South)
  • 4: Miami Dolphins – 8-3 – (AFC East)

Wildcard Seeding:

  • 5: Pittsburgh Steelers – 7-4
  • 6: Cleveland Browns – 7-4
  • 7: Indianapolis Colts – 6-5

Inside the playoff hunt:

  • 8: Houston Texans – 6-5
  • 9: Denver Broncos – 6-5
  • 10: Buffalo Bills – 6-6

The Broncos winning streak is a promising trend, but hindsight can’t help but look back at Denver’s Weeks 1 and 2 losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders. Even Denver’s Week 5 loss to the New York Jets looms largely in hindsight.

Broncos have to take care of business in conference play

With six games remaining for the Broncos this season, they’ll have five conference games that will be essential if they hope to make the playoffs. What’s holding Denver back currently is their 3-4 conference record.

A win on Sunday against the Houston Texans not only gives them the tiebreaker over Houston but also puts their conference record at .500. They’ll also have three more AFC West divisional matchups to close out the season.

  • Week 14 @ Los Angeles Chargers
  • Week 17 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
  • Week 18 @ Las Vegas Raiders

If Denver can continue riding their win streak, they’ll be in complete control of their playoff lives as the season dwindles down.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton emphasized on his Monday morning conference call that he and the team’s focus isn’t on the playoff picture but rather themselves one week at a time.

“You guys will handle that for me,” Payton said. “I know you will. I’m just focused on what do we have to do to win this game. I say that because it’s that time of the year, and rightfully so, where there’s a list of other [teams]. The game yesterday was probably very similar, right? It was a 7-3 AFC team. It’s still about you winning. In other words, we could be playing an NFC team, and yet, it’s still a unit and it matters. It just so happens you’re playing an AFC team that’s a contender. You could say it’s worth a little bit more, but it’s still about here and what we’re doing here during the work week as we prepare to play. We put ourselves in a position where each of these games becomes more and more important, but the focus has to be strictly on this one. I think it kind of is what it is.”

It’s hard to win five straight games, and Denver’s room for error is smaller going forward with all of the remaining conference games on the schedule.

Next up:
The Denver Broncos will travel to take on the Houston Texans this Sunday for their first of three straight road games.