As the Denver Broncos emerge from their Week 11 bye, the team hits the home stretch with a 5-5 record. Considering that five of Denver's seven remaining games are against AFC West opponents, this team most definitely controls its postseason destiny.
Is that a good or bad thing? We'll know in due time.
If the playoffs started this week, the Broncos would be on the outside looking in, signaling a regime change on the coaching level and a wholesale shake-up at quarterback. However, there's still a long row left to hoe — for the Broncos and for the NFL.
The NFL oddsmakers don't like Denver's chances at making the playoffs. The Broncos currently sit with +350 odds of a postseason berth.
For those who aren't savvy in gambling numbers and lingo, sitting at +350 odds to miss, and -500 to make the playoffs, the bettors out there are putting their money on the Broncos going a sixth-straight season of missing the NFL tournament. According to this sportsbook, the odds imply an 83.3% chance the Broncos won't make the playoffs.
In many cases, the oddsmakers, and the bettors themselves, can serve as one of the better outside predictors of what the future holds for a team. The Broncos opened Week 12 as three-point home underdogs to the Los Angeles Chargers, for example.
Justin Herbert's second trip to Mile High could end in triumph for the Chargers if the oddsmakers are correct. However, the last time the talented young quarterback made the trek, Drew Lock led the Broncos to overcome a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Chargers.
Barring an injury to Teddy Bridgewater, or a completely unforeseen circumstance, Lock will not play in this game. So, if the Broncos are going to handle the Chargers (Lock is 2-1 vs. L.A. all-time), it's on Teddy and company to secure the victory.
One factor the oddsmakers could be overlooking, however, is the emotional energy with which this episode of Broncos vs. Chargers will be charged. For the first time ever, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio will square off with one of his former disciples in L.A.'s Brandon Staley.
That factor could be the difference between the Broncos playing home upsetter, or it could be why Staley's squad completely trounces over Fangio. Only time will tell.
One thing is certain: the Chargers have a bonafide quarterback and that's likely to be the difference in this particular matchup, as Fangio seems to already have intuited.
“I thought the guy was really good last year," Fangio said of Herbert. "I hadn’t seen a guy coming from [what] was a so-called college system—a lot of the spread stuff. Nobody kind of knew how he would do, and he made a tremendous adjustment and adaptation to the NFL last year... He’s got a big arm, but he throws with touch. He throws a very catchable ball. Obviously, he’s big, so he’s hard to get down. He’s athletic and fast... he’s a complete quarterback.”
The Broncos' current playoff odds are a far cry from the outlook the team had before the season started. Among the teams that missed the playoffs last year, the Broncos were given the second-best odds of making it this time around by this sportsbook.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen...
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