By Mark Haas

DENVER (CBS4) – Five  games to go and a lot of playoff scenarios still in play for the Broncos … from No. 1 seed and home-field advantage, to missing the postseason entirely. It’s too early to list all of the “Broncos clinch this seed if this, this and this happens …” scenarios, but here’s at least one way Broncos could end up with each of the seeds:

No. 1 Seed – The Broncos still have a decent chance at it after beating the Patriots, but need some help from New England. The Broncos trail the Patriots by one game, but own the head-to-head tie breaker with last week’s win. If the Broncos can finish 4-1 (with a win over the Bengals to ensure the tie-breaker over them as well), Denver could get the top seed if the Patriots injuries continue to mount and New England loses two of its three road games to Houston, New York (Jets) and Miami.

Real quickly, here are the current Standings for Home Field Advantage and Byes:

1. Patriots: 10-1 (7-1 AFC)
2. Bengals: 9-2 (7-1 AFC)
3. Broncos: 9-2 (7-2 AFC)

And the NFL tie-breakers for play-off seeding:

Two Clubs

1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)

1. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.

No. 2 Seed – If Broncos don’t get the top seed, the battle for the other bye would come down to Broncos/Bengals, with the big game on Monday, December 28th. If the Broncos can win this game, they can probably finish 3-2 and still get the #2 seed (assuming Bengals lose one other game either
@ Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh, @ San Francisco, vs. Baltimore). A 4-1 Broncos finish including a win over Bengals would assure Denver of the #2 seed.

No. 3 Seed – If Broncos lose to the Bengals game, the roles are reversed, and the Bengals will probably earn the first round bye with either a 4-1 or 3-2 finish. Loser of the match-up could still get the better seed, but would need the other team to lose at least 2 other games

No. 4 Seed – Broncos (9-2) have a 3 game lead over the Colts and Texans (6-5), so Broncos would have to have an almost complete collapse, but Colts and Texans would both have the tiebreaker over the Broncos if they can catch them in the standings (Colts by head to head win, Texans by better conference record). Colts/Texans would probably have to go 5-0 down the stretch though, and hope the Broncos go just 2-3.

Wild Card – Similar situation for the Chiefs to catch the Broncos in the AFC West, as the Broncos also have a 3 game lead in the division. Again, Chiefs would have the tie breaker because if a scenario plays out where Kansas City can catch Denver in the standings, they would end up having a better division record as a result (teams split head to head and are currently both 2-1 in division games).

No Playoffs – One win gets the Broncos to 10 wins for the season, so for the Broncos to miss the playoffs entirely, they probably have to finish 0-5, and have 3 of these 4 teams (Colts, Texans, Steelers and Jets) all finish at least 4-1.

Mark Haas is CBS4’s weekend sports anchor and sports reporter. Read his bio or follow him on Twitter @markhaastv or on Facebook.

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