By Mike Klis
The Denver Post
7:56 AM EST, December 11, 2012
Mike Adams probably is right.
There has been all this hype about the Broncos and their pursuit of the No. 2 playoff seed, perhaps for no other reason than it’s there.
Recent Super Bowl history, though, suggests playoff seeding may be among the most overrated of NFL’s accomplishments.
The Green Bay Packers won the 2010 season’s Super Bowl as the No. 6, and last, NFC playoff seed. The New York Giants won the Super Bowl last year with a No. 4 seed and a 9-7 record that many years isn’t good enough to reach the postseason tournament.
On the flip side, three of the four No. 1 seeds in the past two seasons have lost their opening playoff game: Green Bay in 2011, and Atlanta and New England in 2010.
So maybe it’s not so terrible that the New England Patriots’ 42-14 rout of the Houston Texans 42-14 on Monday night increased the Broncos’ chances of winding up not with a top-two seed, but with the No. 3 or 4 seed.
“Having not ever been to the playoffs, I don’t want to be happy about getting in or how we get in. I want to win the thing,’’ said Adams, who endured losing years in seven of his first eight NFL seasons with San Francisco and Cleveland before becoming the starting safety for the 10-3, AFC West champion Broncos in this, his ninth season. “This is my first barbecue. I don’t care where we’re at. That’s my mind-set.’’
Still, what else will keep the Broncos motivated through their final three regular-season games? They had the AFC West title, and No. 4 playoff seed, clinched two weeks ago. At the very worst, the Broncos will open the playoffs at home for a first-round playoff game the weekend of Jan. 5-6.
Such a scenario, though, may present the challenge of a second-round playoff game at New England, and conference championship at Houston before the Broncos could reach Peyton Manning’s hometown of New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
There is more out there for the Broncos, and it may be directly in front of them. Most likely, the Broncos need to do something they’ve never done — defeat the 9-4 Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore while at the same time hope the San Francisco 49ers, a power from the NFC, can beat the Patriots in New England.
The No. 2 seed would give the Broncos a bye from the postseason’s first round and a home game in the second round. Win at home and the Broncos would be in the AFC championship game — one step away from playing in their first Super Bowl since the 1998 season.
“We don’t talk about it,’’ Broncos No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “We know it’s there. We know it’s going to be tough to get there. But we’re just trying to go out there and win our next game. We’re trying to put all the work in, and at the end of the day we’ll see what spot we get.’’
Baltimore is one obstacle in the Broncos’ unstated pursuit of the No. 2 seed. The Patriots, and possibly the Texans, are the other. Even after the Texans were humbled in Foxborough, Mass., on Monday night, Houston owns the AFC’s best record at 11-2. New England is No. 2 with a 10-3 mark, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Broncos.
The Pats-Texans game was at least important enough to the Broncos for many of them to watch it.
“I’m sure I’ll have it on, like normal,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said. “I’ll be working on the Ravens, and instead of music (in the background) I’ll be watching ‘Monday Night Football.’ ’’
In recent weeks, the Broncos to a man have refused to publicly acknowledge a top-two playoff seeding, with all its benefits, as a team goal. Their focus, they have collectively said, was on beating their next opponent, and trying to get better.
This week, they can’t ignore the No. 2 seed hype, because it was partially attached to the Baltimore game. Yet, the Broncos still won’t talk playoff seeding. They’ll talk about Baltimore, but not the accompanying seed.
Sports people, it seems, are creatures of habit. The Broncos have won eight in a row thinking one way — why think differently now?
“It’s something that doesn’t enter the conversation,’’ said Eric Decker, the Broncos’ No. 2 receiver. “We’ve still got a lot of business to take care of. With three games left, a lot can change. For us it’s a one-at-a-time, try-to-get better approach. And Baltimore is obviously a very tested team. This is going to be a battle for us to go onto their home turf and give it everything we’ve got.’’
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