Week Seventeen, the last week of the regular season, is similar to Christmas break – you are very excited when it arrives and then when it ends, there is a feeling of emptiness because it is gone so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that the preseason games were coming to an end and I anxiously looked forward to seventeen weeks of meaningful, professional football; an excitement similar to my son’s excitement on Christmas Eve when he knew that gift opening would commence the next morning. For us Bronco fans though, the emptiness doesn’t have to occur today because we are fortunate the season will go on after today, unlike twenty other teams and their fans.
Oakland Raiders (4-11) at San Diego Chargers (6-9): Not only are the Raiders coming off of a 17-6 loss in Week Sixteen to the Carolina Panthers, they will be without the services of Carson Palmer due to a rib injury suffered in last weeks game. Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State replaces Palmer at the helm of the Raiders offense. While both teams obviously want to end the season on a positive note, I feel the Chargers have the edge in this one since this very well may be Norv Turner’s last game as the Chargers coach, which may very well motivate them to play at a level higher, and the Chargers are at home. The Chargers do have an opportunity to win their second game in two weeks since they beat the dismal New York Jets last week, 27-17.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) at Denver Broncos (12-3): Any die-hard Bronco fan knows the importance of today – win and earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs! I will not listen to the majority of football fans and so-called professional analysts when they talk about this being an easy win for the Broncos because this is the NFL. I hope that come 6pm this evening my cautious perspective is proved wrong and Bronco fans can celebrate a sound thrashing of the last place Kansas City Chiefs. First things first though, the Broncos must defeat the Chiefs! During the Week Twelve game at Arrowhead, the Chiefs defense held the Broncos to a total of seventeen points, the lowest point total during this ten game winning streak, and Jamal Charles rushed for over 100 yards. The Broncos can use this game as preparation for the playoffs, as well as make a statement. Given the facts I mentioned from the previous matchup between these two teams, the revitalized Orange Crush defense must find a way to not only contain Charles, but completely stop him, in a sense, taking away the Chiefs main offensive weapon, while Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense need to put at least thirty points on the board. Doing these two things will prove that the hype the Broncos have received this week is warranted. If the Broncos can’t do this against a 2-13 team, how can we expect them to do it against the other playoff teams when the stakes are much higher?