Time running out for Broncos halves
HISTORICALLY, 34 points have been needed to qualify for the NRL top four.
And no team has won the premiership from outside the top four since the 16-team NRL competition kicked off two decades ago.
With 19 matches plus a bye remaining - including Sunday's vital clash against the Raiders - the Broncos can afford just four more losses if they are to reach that top-four cut-off point.
Without being too pessimistic, that scenario appears as likely as Israel Folau denouncing his faith.
Clearly, the Broncos face a massive mountain to climb.
Like many, I tipped them to play finals football this season, but - again historically - they need another 13 or 14 wins for that to transpire.
So, if beaten tomorrow and his halves pairing of Milford and Nikorima are again under par, where does that leave stoic coach Anthony Seibold?
His tolerance must have a use-by date?
Okay, so his troops are young and inexperienced, and have been desperately unlucky to be beaten in two of their four losses.
But, as former coach Wayne Bennett often preached, 'if we keep doing the same thing, we will continue to get the same results'.
And while I greatly admire Seibold and believe he will win a premiership with this team, a loss tomorrow is almost a mandate for changes.
Even before the season started the halves were under fire, and while both are exceptionally-talented individuals, they are a failed combination.
And the patience of the coach must surely expire with a loss on Sunday.
Much speculation has raged about the make-up of a new halves' combination - the most common being boom teenager Thomas Dearden to join Milford, with Nikorima going to the bench.
And while that would no doubt complement the team's attack, it would be extremely unfair on Nikorima who has been one of the rare attacking sparks in the dismal start to 2019.
Only Seibold will know if Dearden, who only became eligible to play NRL when he turned 18 in March, is ready for the jump in class.
The coach recognises Dearden is the club's future No.7, but whether that future starts next week depends very much on the result in Canberra.
For what it's worth, my decision would be to bring in Dearden at halfback, move Nikorima to five-eighth and million-dollar-man Milford to the bench.
Milford is obviously lacking confidence and needs a shake-up, as does the team.
And by dropping Milford, Seibold would send a powerful message.
In respect of Dearden, he is old enough if he is good enough.
And while he might be suspect in defence, he could not be any more fragile than Milford who has missed 17 tackles in the opening five games.
Sunday is D-Day.