Broncos playoff chances: How Denver’s Week 13 loss to Texans, Colts win impact playoff odds

The Broncos entered Week 13 as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They were riding a five-game winning streak that had brought them from the competition for the No. 1 pick back into the AFC playoff race.

However, Denver finally met its match on Sunday. The Broncos’ winning streak came to an end as the Texans were able to knock them off 22-17 in a tightly contested battle.

The Broncos had a chance to mount a potential game-winning drive. Russell Wilson led the team on a 14-play, 72-yard march that ended in the Houston end zone.

The only problem? The final catch of the game belonged to Texans defensive back Jimmie Ward, who outjumped tight end Lucas Krull to make a contested catch on a desperation heave by Wilson.

Denver’s defeat will give it a difficult path to the playoffs in what is shaping up to be a crowded AFC. Still, the Broncos are 6-6 on the season with five games left to play, so there remains a chance that the Broncos can put together a playoff push.

MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture for Week 13 of 2023 NFL season

But just what are Denver’s playoff chances? Here’s what to know about the AFC playoff race as the postseason draws nearer.

Broncos playoff chances

The Broncos’ loss to the Texans allowed Houston to take a one-game lead over them in the AFC playoff race. Houston now owns a key head-to-head tiebreaker over Denver as well, so that could prove consequential in the battle for a wild-card berth.

Additionally, the Colts won to guarantee that at least four teams will remain ahead of the Broncos in the race for the wild-card spots. Why? Because the Steelers, Browns, Texans and Colts all have at least seven wins to their respective names exiting Week 13.

Team Record
Browns 7-4
Steelers 7-5
Colts 7-5
Texans 7-5
Broncos 6-6
Bills 6-6
Bengals 5-6

That’s part of the reason that the Broncos are currently facing an uphill battle in the AFC wild-card race, as Sporting News’ model gives them just an 11.7 percent chance to make it to the postseason. Comparatively, all of the seven-win teams have at least a 54.2 percent chance of making the postseason.

Team xW-L WC% Playoff%
Browns 10-7 63.5% 70.4%
Texans 10-7 62.6% 69.6%
Steelers 9-8 51.8% 57.0%
Colts 9-8 50.6% 54.2%
Bills 9-8 21.9% 23.4%
Broncos 8-9 11.8% 11.9%
Chargers 8-9 11.4% 11.7%

It’s also worth noting that the Broncos have next to no chance of winning their division. With a win over the Texans, they may have been able to at least stay within striking distance of the Chiefs. Still, SN’s model gives the Chiefs a 99.6 percent chance of winning the AFC West for an eighth consecutive season.

Team xW-L Div% WC% Playoff% No. 1 seed% AFC% SB%
Chiefs 13-4 99.6% 0.2% 99.9% 48.2% 39.3% 18.9%
Broncos 8-9 0.1% 11.8% 11.9% 0% 0.1% 0%
Chargers 8-9 0.2% 11.4% 11.7% 0% 0.5% 0.1%
Raiders 6-11 0% 0.4% 0.4% 0% 0% 0%

So, it’s wild card or bust for the Broncos. And while the numbers don’t like their chances of getting there, they could change things quickly given their remaining schedule.

MORE: Breaking down Tyreek Hill’s chances of getting 2,000 yards after big day vs. Commanders

Broncos remaining schedule 2023

The Broncos don’t exactly have an easy close to the season, but they do have a favorable one. They are playing against just one team that has a winning record, the Lions, and will get to beat up on a hapless Patriots squad as a Christmas present.

That said, the team does have three divisional clashes remaining. Two of them are against the Chargers while the final one will come against the Raiders, who beat the Broncos 17-16 in Week 1.

Below is a full look at Denver’s schedule for the rest of the 2023 NFL season.

Week Opponent Record
14 at Chargers 5-7
15 at Lions 9-3
16 vs. Patriots 2-10
17 vs. Chargers 5-7
18 at Raiders 5-7

The combined record of the Broncos’ opponents is 26-34, so it won’t be surprising to see them favored in these matchups. But nothing can be taken for granted in the NFL, so the Broncos are going to need to bring their A-game to make it out of a crowded AFC as one of its seven playoff representatives.

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