The end of the regular season in 2021 is rapidly approaching, and the Denver Broncos are still in the middle of the AFC playoff race. Denver is virtually in a playoff scenario vs. the 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals, with possibly their most significant football game since Super Bowl 50 coming this Sunday.
With a win, the Broncos will be in a good position to clinch one of the Wildcard positions. A loss will not mathematically eliminate Denver, but with so many teams hovering around.500 and the Broncos losing most tie-breakers (including head-to-head against the entire AFC North and a bad Conference record), a loss would effectively destroy any realistic hopes of making the playoffs.
While not everyone in Broncos Country is sold on the team's chances of making the playoffs in 2021, Kyle Brandt of Good Morning Football is. Brandt put his flag in the ground and chose the Broncos in a recent segment where the participants of the program discussed their preferred teams to make a Wildcard push.
Given his fondness for "angry runs" and the Broncos' punishing rushing style, is Brandt biased? Perhaps, but he believes his reasons are sound. As long as the quarterback does not turn the ball over, Denver's running offense and strong defense might help the Broncos reach its first postseason berth since 2015.
Over the next four games of the season, the Broncos will need Teddy Bridgewater to produce some plays in the dropback-passing game. The offensive line, which has struggled in pass protection as much as it has recently excelled in the run game, will have to step up as well.
The Broncos will only have themselves to blame if they fall short.
Every time Broncos Country appears to be ready to invest in this club, it goes out and lays an egg. After a 3-0 start, at home against the Baltimore Ravens? Egg. A strong win versus Dallas on the road followed by a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles? Another egg has hatched.
Defeating the mighty Los Angeles Chargers just to be beaten by Kansas City on the road? Three eggs, three eggs, three eggs, three eggs, three eggs, three eggs, three
Even though Broncos Country should be grateful for the team's continued relevance in December, it's understandable that fans want to see it again this week against Cincinnati. With a win, the entire city will be anticipating the season's final three games. Another egg that has resulted in a significant loss? The year 2022 will be on everyone's mind.
With Denver's identity built around a dominant running game and stingy defense, Brandt may be optimistic about the Broncos' chances of making the playoffs, but facing Cincinnati's strong rushing defense in what is essentially a do-or-die game for both teams, fans can understand why they want to see Denver deliver on Sunday before jumping on the 2021 playoff hype train.