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A general view of Heinz Field prior to the AFC Wild Card playoff football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Schlereth: ‘Encouraged’ about Broncos future after wild-card weekend

A general view of Heinz Field prior to the AFC wild-card playoff football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

By most accounts, the NFL’s wild-card weekend ended up a dud.

In the first round of the league’s postseason tournament, each top seed won its game in both the AFC and NFC, doing so by double-digit point differentials.

Even FiveThirtyEight, who measured the quality of games using a metric comprised of four different five-point ratings, ranked this year’s wild-card weekend among the worst since the NFL expanded its playoffs to 12 teams in 1990.

However, despite the Denver Broncos failing to even make this season’s undesirable wild-card weekend, “Schlereth and Evans” co-host Mark Schlereth said he’s “encouraged” about the team’s future.

“There’s a lot of thing going on right now in regard to the Denver Broncos, but I came away encourage. Why? Because I don’t believe, other than New England right now and maybe Pittsburgh, that there are elite teams in the AFC,” Schlereth said Monday. “I believe the AFC is made up of a bunch of different teams that the Broncos certainly can compete with at any level.”

Part of Schlereth’s co-host, Mike Evans, felt as if the Broncos missed an opportunity, that had they “found a way to get in, they could have beaten these teams.”

But, Evans said:

“For an organization that’s all about championship or bust, what’s the point of just sneaking into the playoffs if it’s going to be one-and-done?  I’d rather you miss the playoffs and have this feeling of, ‘This was a complete failure, and we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to do that. We’ve got to fix this. We’ve got to fix that.’”

“As opposed to maybe having sneaked into the playoffs and somehow giving yourself this little self-satisfied pat on the back. ‘Hey, look at us. We made the playoffs. We’re not that far away.’”

And Schlereth said Denver isn’t a franchise that would be satisfied with just making the playoffs, and that even with a “putrid offense” the Broncos are better right now than playoff teams the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans.

“I walk away from this thing saying with a few tweaks personnel-wise, this Broncos team will be right back next year in the playoffs competing for a world championship,” Schlereth said. “… So I, for one, am excited about next season. These playoffs make me excited for next season.”

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.