A Look At The Broncos 3 Possible Opponents In Their Divisional Playoff Game
DENVER (CBS4) - As the top seed in the AFC, the Broncos next opponent could be either the Steelers, Chiefs or Texans.
If the Steelers beat the Bengals on Saturday night, Pittsburgh comes to Denver. If not, the Broncos will get the winner of the Chiefs-Texans matchup earlier in the day on Saturday.
In his first three seasons in Denver, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to first round byes in the playoffs. This is the fourth straight year the team has accomplished that feat.
But if we've learned anything the last three years, hosting a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in the divisional round of the playoffs is no guarantee of advancement for Manning and the Broncos.
In the 2012 season the Broncos faced the Ravens at home and lost by a score of 38-35. In 2013 they had more luck, defeating the Chargers 24-17. But in 2014 the Broncos lost to the Colts 24-13, and that led to the firing of head coach John Fox.
If the Broncos (12-4) win on Jan. 17, they advance to the AFC Divisional Playoff game. Here are the three teams they could face in their first playoff game:
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
After one half it seemed like the Broncos had Pittsburgh's number in their Dec. 20 matchup at Heinz Field, but the Steelers, who own the league's No. 3 offense, went on the attack and the Broncos and their No. 1 defense had no answer. Denver wound up losing by a score of 34-27.
The Steelers have had an up-and-down season, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been part of the reason for that inconsistency. He threw 21 touchdowns but was intercepted 16 times.
At one point it looked like the Steelers might be able to move past the Bengals and claim the AFC North title, but a loss in Week 16 to the lowly Ravens wiped out any such hope. They enter the playoffs as the AFC's No. 6 seed.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
In their two regular season games against division rivals the Chiefs, the Broncos won once (in Kansas City) and lost once (in Denver).
The Chiefs looked like they were destined for disappointment after losing five straight games early in the season, but they haven't lost since Oct. 18. And their defeat of the Broncos on Nov. 15 was Denver's most lopsided loss of the season.
This is the second trip to the postseason for Andy Reid and the Chiefs during his three year tenure as head coach. They enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
Houston Texans (9-7)
The AFC South was a weak division this year, and like the Chiefs, the Texans started off slow. But star J.J. Watt and their defense helped turn things around after a 2-5 start and propelled them to their first division title since 2012.
If the Broncos wind up facing the Texans it will be the second meeting between Gary Kubiak and his his old team. The Broncos coach was head coach of the Texans for eight seasons before being fired and moving to the Baltimore Ravens to be their offensive coordinator. Last season he watched his Ravens defeat the Texans last season by a score of 25-13.
The last time the Broncos faced the Texans in a regular season game was in December 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. In that matchup, Manning led the Broncos to a 37-13 victory. (The Texans and Broncos faces off in the 2015 preseason with the Broncos winning 14-10.)
While the Broncos wound up with the league's No. 1 defense, the Texans weren't far behind at No. 3. They enter the playoffs as the AFC's No. 4 seed.
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