Broncos clinch AFC West with victory over Chargers
The Broncos clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Chargers on Sunday. Now they’ll try to win the AFC’s top seed over the last two weeks of the regular season.
The Denver Broncos won the AFC West on Sunday by beating the San Diego Chargers, 22-10, on the road. The Broncos improve to 11-3 with the win, which keeps them at pace with the New England Patriots in the race for the No. 1 seed the AFC. Peyton Manning and company still have much work left to do.
Because the Broncos lost to the Patriots, 43-21, in early November, they will need a better overall record than the Pats at the end of the season to earn the top seed. Both teams close out the last two weeks with similar degrees of difficulty — Denver gets Cincinnati and Oakland, while New England gets the New York Jets and Buffalo. The Broncos will be watching closely for the Pats to slip up.
The Broncos are in good position for a first round bye, regardless. They own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Indianapolis Colts, who are still one game back in the AFC standings with just two weeks left in the regular season. The Broncos would need to lose both of their remaining games if the Colts hope to jump them in seeding.
The Broncos are strong contenders to appear in the Super Bowl for a second straight year. The offense hasn’t reached the astronomical heights of last season’s iteration, but it still ranks fifth in the league in points per game, and fourth at 405.6 yards per game. That unit is boosted by a defense that is much improved. Last season’s maligned pass defense now ranks fifth in the league by Football Outsider’s DVOA.