Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Playoff chances dim

The Broncos’ loss at Oakland on Sunday was a crushing blow to their playoff chances, and not just because they added another loss to their record. They also significantly hurt their chances of winning the tiebreaker against San Diego.

If two teams from the same division are tied, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head record. Denver can even that up with a win at San Diego on Dec. 24. The second tiebreaker is record in division games, and that is where the Broncos blew it Sunday. After losing to the Raiders, Denver’s division record is 2-2. San Diego is 3-1. Even if Denver hands San Diego its second division loss on Christmas Eve, the only way the Broncos win that tiebreaker is if the Chargers lose against Oakland in the season finale.

If the Broncos and Chargers each finish with two AFC West losses, the next tiebreaker is common opponents aside from the AFC West foes. Denver is 1-5 against common opponents (Chicago, Green Bay, Houston, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Detroit) with two remaining, so the best they can finish is 3-5. The Chargers are 3-3 in those games with two remaining. A Chargers win against Tennessee or Detroit – or a Broncos loss to Houston or Minnesota - would clinch that tiebreaker for San Diego.

The fourth tiebreaker is conference record and San Diego has an edge in that as well with a 6-3 record. Denver is 5-4.

So even if the Broncos go 4-0 the rest of the way, they likely either need the Chargers to lose to the Raiders on Dec. 30 or lose each of their other three remaining games for Denver to win the division.

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