SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Broncos are not eliminated from the AFC playoffs, but they need to be luckier than a five-legged rabbit to get in.
With the Chargers picking up their 10th win Sunday to eliminate the Broncos from the No. 5 AFC wild-card spot, that leaves only the No. 6 and final playoff spot available.
At present, Baltimore, Miami, Tennessee and Indianapolis are tied for the sixth spot with 7-6 records. The Broncos are 6-7 but they are not only one game out in the standings, they don't have the tiebreakers against the Ravens or Dolphins.
So they are really two games behind those teams.
Still, there's a slim chance for the Broncos. Here's what must happen for the Broncos to become the No. 6 and final playoff seed:
Win out to go 9-7.
This is a must. They must beat Cleveland on Saturday, the Raiders in Oakland on Christmas Eve night, and the Los Angeles Chargers in the season finale at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Dec. 30.
They also need the Dolphins to lose twice AND either the Steelers or Ravens to lose twice.
The Dolphins have the tiebreaker on the Broncos because of their 6-4 record within the AFC. The Broncos are 4-5.
Miami's remaining three games: at Minnesota, home against Jacksonville, at Buffalo.
The Ravens are also 6-4 in the conference and they beat the Broncos' head to head. Baltimore's three remaining games: home against Tampa Bay; at the L.A. Chargers; home against the Browns.
It would be slightly easier for the Broncos if the Steelers lost twice instead of the Ravens. Although Pittsburgh currently leads the AFC North with a 7-5-1 mark, they lost head-to-head to Denver and have a 4-5-1 conference record.
Pittsburgh's remaining three games: Home against New England; at the New Orleans Saints; home against the Bengals.
The Broncos also need the Colts and Titans to lose once.
The Colts' final three games: Home against the Cowboys; home against the Giants; at Tennessee.
The Titans final three games: At the Giants; home against Washington; home against the Colts.
That's a lot to ask, starting with the Broncos winning their next three games.