Broncos In Thick Of Playoff Chase For First Time Since 2015

What usually drives the Denver Broncos this time of year is seeing what’s under the Christmas tree and envisioning what sunny locale they’ll be jetting off to come January.

Not now.

The Broncos (7-6) thrust themselves into the thick of the AFC playoff scramble with a 38-10 blowout of the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The postseason hasn’t been a possibility for the Broncos in mid-December since 2015 when Peyton Manning was hollering “Omaha! Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage instead of bantering with baby brother Eli from the broadcast booth on “Monday Night Football.”

“This is the first time we’ve been in this position this late in the season where we have everything right in front of us,” fourth-year linebacker Bradley Chubb said Monday. “So, it feels different, guys coming in at 10 o’clock, the first lift option we’ve got, trying to get it in, watching the film.

“Everybody’s locked in, man. It’s been fun to see.”

The Broncos haven’t had a winning record in December since 2016, when they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs following Manning’s retirement a month after winning Super Bowl 50.

Coach Gary Kubiak stepped down after that season and the franchise suffered through 5-11 and 6-10 seasons under Vance Joseph before Vic Fangio replaced him and went 7-9 and 5-11 in his first two seasons.

That stretched Denver’s skid to four consecutive losing seasons, its longest such stretch since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

These erratic Broncos know they’ve let a couple of games slip away. They walloped heavyweights such as the Cowboys (9-4) and Chargers (8-5) and whimpered against lesser teams, including the Eagles (6-7) and Raiders (6-7).

“I wish we could have had a better record, you know. It would have been nice to grab one or two more of those losses,” Fangio said. “But we’re playing good football right now overall. We have our issues that we have to get solved like everybody does. But I feel good about our team moving forward to these last four games.”

Up next are the Cincinnati Bengals (7-6), who were installed as an early 1-point underdog, according to FanDuel SportsBook. The showdown with Cincy figures to draw more interest than Sunday’s game against the Lions (1-11-1), where there were 10,005 no-shows.

“Our fans are great. Our stadium’s electric all the time,” Fangio said. “You know, maybe there will be a few less no-shows and it’ll even be a little bit louder.”

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