It’s a Key Game for the Denver Broncos, but not a Crucial One


Believe it or not the game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots on Sunday will not decide who is going to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl. It’s a big game but it’s not nearly as big as people are making it out to be.

The common belief is that the winner on Sunday will have the inside track for home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs. That’s half right. If the Broncos win, they would take a two game lead over the Patriots and everyone else in the conference. In reality, it would actually be a three game lead over the Patriots because the Broncos would hold the tiebreaker. So yes if the Broncos win, they would have the inside track to home-field advantage.

If the Patriots win, which by the way, would not surprise me, they would only tie the Broncos in terms of number of losses. They would have a better record at 7-2 but only because they’ve yet to have their bye week. It’s true that the Patriots would be the number one seed at that point but there upcoming schedule is brutal, and there’s no way they win out.

The Broncos, on the other hand, face the lighter part of their schedule after the game with the Patriots. There are a lot of road games and some tough ones at Kansas City, at San Diego and at Cincinnati but there are also five games that the Broncos will be favored by double digits in.

So what does all this mean? Simple, the Broncos could lose on Sunday and easily still end up with the number one seed just as they did last season. The Broncos lost a Sunday night game in New England after being up 24-0 at halftime, and everyone thought that loss would cost them home-field advantage. There were even people who believed that a loss like that would scar the Broncos and even if they did get the Patriots in Denver, it wouldn’t matter.

We all know what happened; the Patriots lost a couple of games down the stretch and the Broncos beat them rather easily in the AFC Championship Game.

The game on Sunday is a big one and it certainly does have playoff implications but to frame as the game for home-field is a massive overstatement. There are eight games left after Sunday and as we saw last season, things change from week to week.

The Broncos are the better team, I firmly believe that, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they lost on Sunday. In almost every way, the Patriots need this game more than the Broncos do and they are at home. Even if the Broncos do lose on Sunday, I will still believe they are the better team. Every team, even the best ones, lose 2-4 games in an NFL season.

When the schedule came out, I had the Broncos going 12-4 or 13-3. That obviously means I expected them to lose a few games along the way and this was one that I had circled as a possibility.

Having said all of that I think the Broncos survive some early emotion and momentum from the Patriots, and find a way to pull it out in the fourth quarter.

Either way though, the Broncos have eight more games to play after Sunday and the worst thing that can happen is they come home at 6-2.