Denver Broncos Playoff Picture: What History Tells Us About Denver at Every Seed

Jennifer Eakins@@themondaymommy Contributor IDecember 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 2:  Denver Broncos defensive players run onto the field as pyrotechnics and fog is released and cheerleaders dance prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 2, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

After clinching the top spot in the AFC West with a win against a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad in Week 13, the Denver Broncos would be the fourth seed in the conference if the season were to end today.

With that fourth seed comes a home game in the first round; a nice perk but, based on the data uncovered after looking at the playoff history of the franchise, not enough to feel secure about the Broncos' path to the big game.

In the modern era of the NFL, the Broncos have been to the playoffs 18 times. Since its first postseason appearance in 1977, Denver has played in six Super Bowls and has come out victorious in two of those big games.

Here's a look at how the Broncos fared in postseasons past based on where they were seeded when the playoffs began.


Denver as the Top Dog

The Broncos have been the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs five times in franchise history (1977, 1987, 1989, 1996 and 1998). Of the five seasons, they were able to reach the Super Bowl four times.

Super Bowl XXXlll in 1998 was the only year that Denver was able to run the table as the No. 1 seed and hoist the Lombardi Trophy when all was said and done at the end of the season.

It appears that we will be spared the what-if scenarios with Denver as the top seed in 2012. The Texans can potentially lock it up with a win next Monday night in New England.


Denver as the Bridesmaid

The Broncos have been seeded second four times in Bronco history. They were able to take advantage of that illustrious bye week and home-field advantage by reaching the Super Bowl only once in a loss in 1986 to the Giants.

In 1991 and 2005, the second-seeded Broncos' playoff runs ended with losses in the AFC Championship Game. Denver was bounced in the second round in 1984.

It is currently shaping up to be a three-way battle for that bye week between Denver, New England and Baltimore. This race is far from over, and it could all come down to the matchup between the Broncos and Ravens in Week 15.

Historically, the Broncos are 0-5 against the Ravens on the road. However, that was before Peyton Manning brought his talents to the Mile High City. While wearing a different uniform, Manning has won four straight games against Baltimore, making this matchup even more compelling.


Now Boarding Seeds 3, 4, 5 and 6

The Broncos made the playoffs with a seed lower than the No. 2 spot eight times throughout the history of the franchise.

Unfortunately, as a franchise, Denver has been unable to seal the deal and get farther than the divisional round when seeded third or lower with one shining exception. When the Broncos won their first Super Bowl in 1997 against the Packers, they were a wild card team.

Down the stretch, the Broncos will be looking to move up in the seedings and try to procure that bye and another week of home cooking. It will be interesting to see if history will actually repeat itself when it comes to playoff seeding for this Denver Broncos team.

With a quarterback who is living proof that you shouldn't count anyone out and a balanced team that is firing on all cylinders, Denver has the potential to defy the odds and create a new history for the franchise.