By virtue of the Patriots crushing the Baltimore Ravens, the Broncos will be forced to play their starters in the regular season finale against the Oakland Raiders if they want to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. And to make things even more difficult for the Broncos is that the Patriots’ last game of the season got flexed to the same 4:25 p.m. EST time that the Broncos will be playing instead of them playing at 1 p.m. EST. This will mean that both teams will be playing and keeping an eye on the other on the scoreboard.
Luckily for the Broncos, they have already clinched a first round bye so they are at least guaranteed a automatic advance into the divisional round and will get at least one home game. This will be made even sweeter for the team if they win. The Broncos control their own destiny for home-field advantage and are going up against a 4-11 Raiders team. While the Raiders will be playing spoiler and the Broncos are on the road, they should be okay assuming the starters escape that game healthy.
It is an unfortunate situation that the Broncos are going to have to play a meaningful regular season finale instead of resting their players the last game of the season, but I can see this as a blessing in disguise. Had they clinched everything last weekend and rested, that would be 2-3 weeks that the starters would not be playing so it could create some rust. Playing this Sunday will give the Broncos’ starters a week to rest and heal up without gaining too much rust. Look for the Broncos to fight and play their game up until the very end.