The Denver Broncos look to have already lost the bye week, losing John Fox for at least several weeks.
Fox will have surgery on his aortic valve, likely sidelining him from the sideline for the rest of the season and Jack Del Rio will almost certainly be the interim head coach when the team returns to action next week.
But before then, Denver can still enjoy the bye week, especially if a few things go their way.
The Broncos Win If…
The AFC West loses. The San Diego Chargers play the Washington Redskins early, and the Skins should be hungry after their butt-whooping by the Broncos last Sunday. At 2:05 p.m. MT, the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles, so most Broncos fans will be saying “Go Eagles,” who, ironically, were blown out by the Broncos earlier this year, too. Of course, the most consequential game is the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Buffalo Bills, which is also an early game. Kansas City continues to lead the division, with Denver right behind, at 7-1. If KC were to somehow lose to Buffalo, the Broncos would be in a tie for first in the AFC Best.
The Broncos Lose If…
The inverse of what was just explained, happens. If Oakland, San Diego – and most importantly, Kansas City – all win, it’s a worst-case scenario for the Broncos, who can’t improve their record this week. The Chargers would still be two, and the Raiders three games back of Denver, while KC would hold onto their slim lead.
Find a way to trade for a Broncos player on their bye. Look, people in today’s world are all about instant gratification; a player on the bye isn’t doing anything but taking up bench space. Some fantasy football players will look to replace Denver players, while others could be hurting and could be lured into a trade. Simply, no one scores like Broncos beasts – Knowshon Moreno and Wes Welker are tied with nine touchdowns each to lead the league, while Julius Thomas’ eight scores are best by a tight end. Any of those three – somehow stealing Peyton Manning seems out of the question – would be a major boost to your chances in winning games and possibly even your league.
What’s At Stake
The AFC West division lead as well as a comfortable playoff lead. It’s not just about the division this bye weekend, but any other team playing can make up spots in the standings. Kansas City is still perfect, but Denver’s the only AFC team with seven wins, meaning the Broncos would be the four seed if the season ended today. Still, the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals have six wins and could tie the men in orange and blue in that department, while still having more losses for now. It’s not all positive for them either, though. Every team playing is putting the health of their players at risk, and if they lose, the Broncos will actually be in a better place despite not competing this weekend. Especially if they can improve their own health, which is likely without the harsh hits on the football field.
Rich Kurtzman is cover32′s Denver Broncos Managing Editor. Follow Rich on Twitter (@RichKurtzman).