AFC West Preview – Week Sixteen
Dec 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos strong safety Duke Ihenacho (33) and cornerback Quentin Jammer (23) combine on a tackle on San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The San Diego Chargers defeated the Denver Broncos 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Where has the NFL season gone? It is hard to believe only two weeks remain! Unfortunately, with two weeks remaining, the AFC West division title and home field advantage in the playoffs is still undetermined. Fortunately for the Denver Broncos, they control their own destiny – win the next two games and they will capture their third straight AFC West title (13th overall), as well as home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I am looking a bit ahead though considering the Broncos have to take care of business in week 15 first. For my thoughts on the Broncos game against the Houston Texans and the other games featuring teams in the AFC West, please continue reading.
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans: More important than Peyton Manning breaking the record of touchdown passes in a season, is that the Broncos must absolutely bounce back from last Thursday nights poor performance against the San Diego Chargers. A lot is on the line for the Broncos as they try to get their twelfth win of the season. Given the position the Broncos find themselves in, like most games at this point in the season for playoff teams playing non-playoff teams, this could very well be a trap game for Denver. At 2-12, the Texans season is obviously over except for the motions, so the team, as well as the fans, would love nothing more than to put a wrench in the Broncos journey to the playoffs. In order to prevent this, the Broncos defense will have to step up and stop the Texans. In a sense, this is a litmus test for the Broncos defensive unit; a test run to work out the bugs if you will, as they prep for a long playoff run hopefully. The Broncos pass offense comes into this game ranked first in the league (336.6 yards per game), while the Texans pass defense is rated second in the league (183.3 yards per game). Based on these statistics, Manning may have a more difficult time breaking the touchdown passes record today, but is that really important? As a diehard fan, I would rather see the Broncos win by any means whatsoever, a huge ground game, a huge passing day, or a great defensive effort. Realistically, all of those things will be required to get the win. A win today is more important than any record. If Manning does get the record today that is just more gravy on a great statistical season/career – it does absolutely nothing to getting the Broncos closer to the playoffs and their quest for a third Lomardi Trophy.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have a slim chance of making the playoffs so I would expect them to perform in a similar fashion to what I saw last Thursday night in Denver (27-20 upset win over Broncos), if not better considering they’re playing the lowly Oakland Raiders this week. With last week’s win over the Broncos, and the fact that they host Oakland this week and the Chiefs next week, the Chargers have an opportunity to end the regular season with a sweep of the AFC West. Since Kansas City and Denver are somewhat neck-to-neck in the race for the division title, I hope the Chargers are able to pull off the sweep.
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs: Depending on what transpires over the next two weeks, this game could very well be a playoff preview. With a victory, both teams would improve their playoff seeding. While the Colts have locked up the AFC South, the Chiefs still have an opportunity for a division title, albeit they will need help from the Denver Broncos (or the Texans and/or Raiders depending on your perspective). As a Bronco fan, I would love to see the Colts go into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs, and assuming the Broncos take care of business in Houston, the division title would remain in Colorado, making week seventeen games insignificant when it comes to the division title. Considering the way the Chiefs have been playing the last few weeks, and the way the Colts have been a roller coaster team of late, I expect the Chiefs to win today. Another obstacle the Colts will face today is the weather – forecasted high in Kansas City is twenty-five degrees and cloudy; a lot different than the indoor conditions the Colts are used to when at home.
Go Broncos – beat the Texans!
Merry Christmas Bronco fans – be safe!
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