Game against Bills to be test of first-placed Broncos’ mettle


LOS ANGELES — With the postseason fast approaching, the fate of the first-place Denver Broncos rests in their own hands, as they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills this Saturday. Of the four teams that remain in the hunt for the playoffs in the AFC West, the Broncos are the only one that controls its own destiny. “We have to play a whole lot better if we want to win,” Broncos cornerback Andre Goodman said. “We haven’t played our best football yet, but I think we feel good about the position we’re in, in terms of the division race and right now that’s the only thing we can focus on.” There are two weeks left in the regular season and the Broncos are seeking to return to the postseason for the first time in a half dozen years. If the Broncos beat Buffalo and the Kansas City Chiefs at home in the final week of the season, they would reach the postseason for the first time since the 2005 season. Denver could also clinch the division with a victory this weekend and an Oakland Raiders’ loss at Kansas City on Saturday. The Broncos take an 8-6 record into the final stages of the regular season. In 2008 and 2009, Denver lost their final three games and failed to make the postseason.

Denver’s six-game winning streak ended with a 41-23 loss to New England on Sunday, bringing back memories of those season-ending failures. The Broncos have a one-game division lead over Oakland and San Diego, and are two games ahead of Kansas City. The Bills are hoping to avoid their eighth consecutive loss Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The week kicked off Thursday night with the Indianapolis Colts winning their second straight game by beating the Houston Texans 19-16. The Colts had lost their first 13 games of the season. With Christmas Day on Sunday, the majority of the games are being played in week 16 on Saturday so players can spend the holiday with their families. In Saturday games it is St. Louis at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay at Carolina, Minnesota at Washington, Oakland at Kansas City, Cleveland at Baltimore, Miami at New England, Jacksonville at Tennessee, New York Giants at New York Jets, Arizona at Cincinnati, San Diego at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas and San Francisco at Seattle. In the lone game on Christmas, the Chicago Bears will have their hands full with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers who lost last week but rarely has two poor games in a row. The Monday night game features the red-hot New Orleans Saints against the equally impressive Atlanta Falcons.