Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws the ball during the second half against the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Mile High Monday: Broncos Head for the Home Stretch

Broncos - MHM FINAL

The Denver Broncos start the second half of the season this Sunday and things get serious right away.

The next four games will write the story of the 2013 season. There are three divisional games (two against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs), the annual slugfest against playoff perennial New England, and three of those four games will be on the road.

If Denver makes it through that tough stretch at 4-0 you can pretty much book the AFC West title and a playoff bye. If not, things will get very interesting.

Clearly the two most important games in the second half are against the Chiefs. Even though Kansas City has been the beneficiary of possibly the easiest 9-game schedule stretch in the history of the league, they currently sit at 9-0 and lead the division. If Denver wants to win their third straight AFC West championship they’ll need to do it on the field against the only team above them in the standings.

It would certainly benefit them to enter the playoffs as the AFC West champs. The difference between a division champion and a wild card in the playoffs is massive. A division champ would possibly have to win only two home games to reach the Super Bowl, whereas a wildcard would have to win three road games to get there.

One thing we’ve learned in recent years is that being a wild card doesn’t mean a Super Bowl title is out of reach. The 2007 New York Giants and 2010 Green Bay Packers are two examples of Wild Card teams who have won it all. Still, Denver would prefer the path of least resistance, and that means taking care of business within the division.

Luckily for Broncos fans Peyton Manning is typically at his most dominant when he plays divisional opponents. That includes a 7-0 mark in the West since he became a Denver Bronco. He’ll look to add to that total this week when Denver kicks off the home stretch against the San Diego Chargers.

Despite the fact Denver has won three in a row against San Diego and the Chargers 4-4 record has them on the outside of the AFC West race, they’re always a tough out with Philip Rivers behind center. Not to mention they’re coached by ex-Bronco Mike McCoy who is more familiar with the Broncos than any other opposing coach they’ll see all year, and they’ll also be without John Fox who has been sidelined with emergency heart surgery.

No matter. The Broncos need to make a statement in this game to set the tone for the second half of the season. In order to take the division lead from the Chiefs, Denver has to take care of business against teams they should beat. They should come into this game well rested and motivated, and I expect Denver to demolish the San Diego Chargers.

A wild comeback victory in San Diego last year sparked an 11-game winning streak, and Broncos’ fans everywhere are hoping a big win on Sunday sparks a similar winning streak this season.

Go Broncos!

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Tags: Afc West Denver Broncos John Fox Mile High Monday Peyton Manning

  • DTVTechGuy

    .327 is the Chiefs opponents winning percentage.

    .367 is the Broncos opponents winning percentage.

    If Denver beats the Colts…. The numbers are pretty close….

  • DTVTechGuy

    Just like to remind you Denver fans every time you bring up the Chiefs schedule that your schedule has been just as easy and your not undefeated.

    • DXW

      To be fair, no teams go undefeated. You have to look at how they play those games, and so far Denver’s problem has been sloppy play and stupid mistakes in nearly every game so far this season. It’s been frustrating to watch at times, but even with the mistakes, they’ve had the talent to put up an average of 40+ points per game. Still, it would be nice to see them put it all together.

      It’s similar with the Chiefs in a lot of ways. They have what appears to be a good defense, and they don’t seem to make many mistakes. But if they can’t figure out how to score on offense, or if their defense can’t keep up with a great offensive team like Denver (this does remain to be seen, like it or not), then they’ll just be that team that had a good first half of the season then fell apart when their schedule got tough. Same with Denver. If they can’t figure out how to stop making so many mistakes and turning the ball over, they’ll be out in the early rounds of the playoffs, and Manning will be one season closer to going down in history as the greatest QB to play the game, but who struggled, year after year, to win in the post season.

      • DTVTechGuy

        Most intelligent thing I’ve seen you write. Well said.

        The offense isn’t as bad as it seems. Over 23 a game. 16th DVOA. JC is leading the league in AP Yards.

        If you ask me, when you compare Denver to KC… You have the exact same team. A dominant side of the ball…. Offense or Defense… And a mediocre, middle of the pack side of the ball. Denver is 18th DVOA on Defense. It all depends on which side of the ball will either win the game or cost the team a win. If KC’s offense doesn’t make mistakes, they don’t have to out score anyone. The Defense can hang with anyone, that’s an accepted, national opinion. If Denver’s defense doesn’t make any mistakes then the Offense can just light the board up and who really cares if they give up 30 because the offense scored 40.

        It’s the exact same theory with each team.

        Which side of the ball will make or break the game.

        They’ll probably split

      • Millwright86

        The other thing that is surprising considering the moods on both these teams is that they are #1 and #2 in net points Denver is actually only out scoring their opponents by 2 more points per game than the chiefs are