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Broncos Trip to Arrowhead is a Must-Win to Boost Playoff Odds

The Broncos can't afford to lose a 12th-straight game to the Chiefs if they want to keep a playoff berth alive.

The Denver Broncos have been up and down all season, winning three straight only to lose the next four to begin the campaign. The Broncos lose games they should win and win games they should lose. 

This topsy turvy season makes it tough to get a read on just what type of team fans can expect each game and whether or not the Broncos are playoff-bound. Fortunately, we don't need a crystal ball. The analytics can tell us what chance Denver truly has at making the postseason.

The Broncos clawed their way back into the playoff mix when they beat the Los Angeles Chargers, moving to a 6-5 record. In the AFC playoff picture, Denver currently sits at the 9th seed, meaning there are two teams ahead of them for that seventh and final playoff spot.

I've analyzed the probability of the Broncos making the playoffs by crunching the numbers for every season since 2005. At a record of 6-5, the Broncos are still on the outside looking in because the probability of reaching the postseason is 0.40, meaning they have less than a 50/50 chance.

If the Broncos lose on Sunday and drop to 6-6, their postseason probability drops to 0.27. That is a very low chance of making the playoffs and one that very few would be foolish enough to bet on. 

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What makes it worse is how hard it is to climb out of that deficit. Even if the Broncos win the following two weeks vs. the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals, the probability would increase to only 0.40 — the same as it sits currently.

The good news is, a victory in primetime over the Kansas City Chiefs not only puts the Broncos atop the AFC West, but the probability of the postseason would jump to nearly 50/50 at 0.47. Win the following week and it moves up to 0.58. The odds begin to favor the Broncos significantly if they win games. Shocker. 

Unfortunately, the Broncos have had zero success against the Chiefs since 2015, losing 11 straight. The Broncos also have a historically difficult time getting a victory in Kansas City in December. 

The stars don’t seem to be aligned, but the Broncos still have to find a way to return to the Mile High City with a win if they want to keep those playoff hopes alive.


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