All joking aside, on Sunday, the same day that the Broncos broke their eight-game losing streak and finally got back on the winning ways, they were officially eliminated from the playoffs for a second-year in a row.
While any hope for a postseason run in 2017 coincidentally ended the same day they got their first win in over two months, the team’s focus has begun to shift from solely focusing on this year, to blending the final three games of this season with momentum for next year.
“There have been teams that have won their last four after having a rough season that has carried over into the following season. That’s what I’m hoping for… I’m hoping it does spark us,” Joseph elaborated on the team’s newfound winning ways. “Thursday is our next game, but pushing forward in the future, it sparks us in the right direction.”
For the players and coaches, winning the final three games is important and would mean a lot—not only to carry momentum into the offseason but for their own job security. However, for the organization moving into the future, winning—especially multiple games over their final three—could be counter productive.
On Sunday, when the Cleveland Browns were beating the Green Bay Packers 21-7 in the third quarter, it wasn’t inconceivable that the Broncos could actually end up with the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft. After Cleveland ended up blowing the game in classic Browns fashion, and Denver came away with a win over the Jets, the Broncos are no longer in the running for the worst record in the league.
However, if Denver finds a way to roll off a few more wins, even just one, they could easily, and quickly, see themselves go from one of the top overall picks in the draft, to outside the top 10.
If the Broncos beat the Colts this Thursday night, they could sit back and watch their placement in the rankings climb all weekend. A Broncos win, along with losses from the Jets, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would catapult Denver from the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, to the No. 9 overall pick in a matter of a few days. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that all of those teams lose, either, as they all play teams with better records.
If, however, Denver does lose to the 3-10 Colts on Thursday—again, not inconceivable as they haven’t won a single road game all season—they would be in position for a top-five overall pick, no matter what any other team does this weekend.
Of course, no matter what happens in the upcoming week, there will still be two weeks left in the season, but with Denver playing another team battling for a top pick, it makes this week that much more important.
With the 2017 playoffs out of sight, Week 15, starting on Thursday night, will be instrumental in how the Broncos’ future shapes up.