BRONCOS

Other than two juggernauts, a wide open AFC is good news for the Broncos

Sep 20, 2022, 11:11 AM
Broncos horse...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs played the game of the year in the NFL a season ago.

In fact, it was one of the better football contests in recent memory.

The Chiefs won an OT thriller, 42-36, punching their ticket to another AFC Championship Game. The Bills defense infamously couldn’t stop Patrick Mahomes and the K.C. offense with just 13 seconds to go in regulation to preserve a victory.

Neither team’s 2021 season ended the way they wanted with the Chiefs losing to the Bengals the following week, but it’s abundantly clear either could’ve won the Super Bowl. And it looks like they’re both favorites again this season.

Both Kansas City and Buffalo are off to fast 2-0 starts, with three of their four wins coming in dominant fashion. Only one other team in the AFC is 2-0, and that’s the Miami Dolphins after their dramatic comeback win over Baltimore, 42-38.

So what does this mean for the 1-1 Broncos and where they stand? Well, ultimately it’s good news. It’s way too early to start talking playoff picture (the Broncos are the No. 10 seed if you’re curious), but parity is a good thing for Denver.

Three AFC playoff teams from a season ago in the Bengals, Titans and Raiders are 0-2. Teams that aren’t legitimate contenders in the Jets, Steelers, Jaguars and Patriots are 1-1. There’s a lot of mediocrity in the conference, with the two top dogs seemingly on a collision course for another playoff showdown.

Still a lot can change between now and January, and for the Broncos this year is all about making the postseason. They haven’t “danced” since the year they won Super Bowl 50. And just participating in a playoff game in Russell Wilson’s first year as QB seems to be the barometer for success. This town is desperate for some meaningful football late in the year, and the AFC looks to be fairly wide open.

Now, of course, the Broncos have a ton to clean up. They really should be 2-0, but you know about the debacle in Seattle and disappointing home opener against the Texans. Still, 1-1 is better than 0-2, with hopefully a lot of valuable lessons gained along the way.

That starts with head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who admitted on Monday he’s got to be better. The schedule is still relatively easy in the next six games before the bye. So Denver needs to take advantage of that, plus an AFC that appears to be fairly mediocre. At least when it comes to claiming one of the coveted seven playoff berths.

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Other than two juggernauts, a wide open AFC is good news for the Broncos