Broncos’ wild-card nightmare could become reality

There is so much uncertainty surrounding who will and will not make the playoffs. But one thing is looking more and more certain (Broncos fans now should close their eyes, as they probably would rather not read what’s ahead).

The Denver Broncos are destined to host their playoff nemesis Indianapolis Colts in the opening wild-card round.

As it stands now, Denver has a commanding three-game lead in the AFC West. The Broncos can clinch the AFC West title with a victory Sunday over the Kansas City Chiefs and a San Diego loss or tie Thursday night to the Oakland Raiders. If that happens, the Broncos likely would become the AFC’s fourth seed.

And the fourth seed will host the fifth seed, which seems almost certain to be the Colts. The 8-4 Colts are not going to win the AFC South title — Tennessee will — and they already have beaten the 7-5 Patriots and 7-5 Ravens, two teams they are vying with for playoff spots.

It’s hard to imagine that any other playoff contender, including the 7-5 Dolphins, can overtake the Colts with Indianapolis’ schedule being what it is down the stretch. The Colts host Cincinnati and Detroit, before playing at Jacksonville on a Thursday night, and finishing at home against Tennessee.

Realistically, the worst the Colts are going to finish is at 10-6; they could even wind up with a mark as good 12-4 that would include a winning streak of nine straight games to end the regular season and head into the postseason.

There still are four weeks left in this season and a lot can change. But right now, every sign points to Indianapolis opening the postseason in Denver, an idea that should be extremely comforting to the Colts.

Indianapolis beat Denver 41-10 during the 2003 playoffs and 49-24 during the 2004 playoffs. Denver has struggled against Indianapolis in the past. But it looks like the Broncos will have another shot at them in the future.

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