Jax loss puts Broncos in driver’s seat again
DENVER – The Denver Broncos got the win Saturday and something even better Sunday: They regained control of their playoff destiny.Thanks to Houston’s 21-0 upset of Jacksonville and Pittsburgh’s 20-7 win over Baltimore on Sunday, the Broncos need only a victory next week against the Indianapolis Colts to secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Jacksonville and Baltimore each fell to 8-7.The Broncos improved to 9-6 Saturday night with a 37-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. They were off Sunday and weren’t available for comment. After the game, though, they said being counted out by many after their 28-point loss to Kansas City motivated them for the Titans game.”Everybody wrote us off,” receiver Rod Smith said. “We didn’t like that too much.”Now, they’ll need no outside motivation. A victory against the Colts next Sunday will give the Broncos a 10-6 record, a playoff spot and a first-round game at either San Diego or Indy on Jan. 8 or 9.Last year, the Broncos defeated the Colts in Week 15 to clinch a playoff spot, then went to Indy for the first round of the playoffs and lost 41-10.Buffalo also won Sunday to improve to 9-6, and the Jets lost to fall to 10-5.The Broncos would win a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bills based on a better conference record if both teams finish 10-6. If the Jets, Bills and Broncos tie at 10-6, the Jets would be eliminated and the Broncos would get the fifth seed and travel to San Diego for their first round game.It will be interesting to see how the Colts approach next week’s game, given their 34-31 win over San Diego on Sunday.With the win and New England’s 23-7 win over the Jets, the Colts (12-3) were locked into the third seed in the AFC, meaning next week’s game against the Broncos wouldn’t have any affect on the standings.Meanwhile, Indy quarterback Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes against the Chargers to reach 49 for the season and break Dan Marino’s all-time season record by one.There are also ways for the Broncos to qualify for the playoffs with a 9-7 record, most of which would require Jacksonville to lose its final game at Oakland.
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