Week Fourteen in the NFL – also referred to as “survival weekend” because after this weekend, many teams playoff hopes will be officially squashed. Thank goodness the Denver Broncos are not even close to being in that category. Of the thirty-two teams in the league, twenty seven of them have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs entering week fourteen. For my thoughts on each game featuring an AFC West team, please continue reading.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos: From this point on in the regular season, every game the Broncos play will be considered a trap game. With four weeks remaining in the season, the Broncos are in command of the division and home field advantage in the playoffs. It’s pretty simple – the Broncos win their remaining four games and they get home field advantage. A win against the Titans will secure a playoff spot. The weather forecast for this game is not good from a fans perspective – very cold and a chance of snow. From a players perspective – it’s football and both teams have to deal with it. There has been a lot of talk this week about Peyton Manning and his subpar performance in cold weather. Manning has an opportunity to debunk that notion but I’m less concerned about that and more concerned about the Broncos getting their eleventh win of the season, by any means possible. The 5-7 Titans are fighting for a playoff spot and bring a stout passing defense (212.6 yards/game – 7th in NFL) to face high-powered Broncos passing offense (336.6 yards/game – 1st in NFL). The last three weeks the Broncos have been in high-profile games so it will be interesting to see how they perform in a game that seems “less significant” when compared to the last three games. That thought though, really only applies to fans and the entertainment aspect of the game, not the players and the X’s and O’s. Coach John Fox is back after his open heart surgery and has chosen to coach this game from the sidelines so I am sure CBS will keep a close eye on him throughout the game to see how he fairs in his first game back considering the elements will not be very favorable. Speaking of CBS, unfortunately, this game is not being televised nationally so I am heading to a local watering hole to watch the game, which isn’t necessarily bad considering there will be plenty of Bronco fans in attendance. Hopefully, all those fans will be celebrating another Bronco win around 6:30pm!
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins: The Chiefs travel east in an attempt to stop their three game skid, as the face the 3-9 Washington Redskins. The Chiefs, in order to re-establish themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, must win this game. The hopes for an AFC West divisional title took a serious hit when Kansas City went 0-3 against AFC West teams; two losses against Denver and one loss against San Diego. The Redskins are obviously playing for pride, and possibly Mike Shanahan’s job, so I am hopeful they will present a huge challenge for the Chiefs. Robert Griffin III has seen that the Chiefs defense over the last few weeks is susceptible to big pass plays so hopefully the Redskins will combine this opportunity with Griffins ability to run. A running quarterback is something the Chiefs didn’t have to focus on when playing the Broncos two times over the last three weeks. If a prediction for this game was on record alone, a person would be crazy to pick the Redskins to win this game but where is the fun in that? After all, there is a reason they play the games right?! I am orange and blue throughout and deep down want nothing good for AFC West teams, especially the Chiefs, so I am pulling for the Redskins in this one. Will the Redskins win this one? Probably not, but imagine the fun Bronco fans will have if the Chiefs’ losing streak continues. After this game, it doesn’t get any easier for Kansas City considering they travel to Oakland and San Diego with a visit by the Indianapolis Colts sandwiched between their two divisional games. Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Colts have been on a roller coaster as of late when it comes to playing good football so this game appears to be a bit easier for Kansas City than it did a month ago.
New York Giants at San Diego Chargers: In a game almost like a playoff game, these two 5-7 teams will face off to determine which team stays alive for another week in the playoff hunt. The Chargers should be pretty motivated and upset considering they lost 17-10 last week to AFC North leader, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants, on the other hand, hope to continue their winning ways in Southern California after beating their division rivals, the Washington Redskins, last week 24-17. Of the two starting quarterbacks in this game, Philip Rivers is definitely having the better season. Rivers is currently ranked fourth in the league with 302.8 yards per game, while Eli Manning is fourteenth with 249.6 yards per game. A more glaring stat when comparing these two quarterbacks is the passing touchdowns versus interceptions. Rivers is head and shoulders over Manning in this area with twenty-three touchdowns to nine interceptions, while Manning has thrown fifteen touchdowns and eighteen interceptions. After this game, the Chargers have a short week if preparation as they get set for their final road game of the season when they travel to Denver to face the Broncos on Thursday night. For this very reason, I will pull for the New York Giants and Peyton’s little brother to beat the Chargers.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets: The struggling 4-8 Raiders make the trek across the country to face the struggling 5-7 Jets. Oakland, losers of their last two games, are in last place in the AFC West, while the Jets, losers of their last three, are one game ahead of the Buffalo Bills and the cellar in the AFC East. After this road trip, the Raiders will wrap up their season by facing each AFC West team; the Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs at home; the San Diego Chargers on the road. So, who will I cheer for in this game? That is such a tough call because I enjoy it so much when either one of these teams lose. I think either team can win, but I’ll have to go with the Jets. Come on, as a Bronco fan how can I honestly go for the black and silver?!
Go Broncos – beat the Titans!