Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) makes a touchdown in front of New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Week seven is right around the corner and it starts a three-week stretch for the Denver Broncos that could significantly improve their NFL power ranking, or it could cause them to take a considerable dive. That three-week stretch includes the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers at home and a week nine road trip to face the New England Patriots. Before I shift my focus toward the 49ers game, I am taking a brief look back at the Broncos week six game against the New York Jets, as well as the other week six game featuring two AFC West teams.
Denver Broncos at New York Jets: Unlike Super Bowl XLVIII, which was played in the same stadium as the week six matchup against the Jets, the first play from scrimmage for the Broncos was a good one; Peyton Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 54 yard strike. Based on that play, I thought the expectation of a blowout, or an easy win, was going to be accurate. Unfortunately, the opening drive stalled and the Broncos had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Brandon McManus. From that point on the Broncos struggled offensively and weren’t able to build on the early 3-0 lead. Both defenses were stellar most of the day and made it seem very difficult for either offense to gain control of the game. Trailing 7-3, Peyton Manning slowly and methodically lead the Broncos on three scoring drives in the second and third quarters. The three touchdown passes, which built a comfortable 24-7 lead, consisted of two strikes to Julius Thomas and one to Demaryius Thomas. Considering how the Denver defense was playing, at that point I figured the seventeen point lead should be enough for the Broncos to leave New York with a victory. Credit the Jets, they didn’t cave and scored ten unanswered points making the score 24-17 with approximately eight minutes remaining in the game. Like we’ve seen before this season, the Broncos defense stepped up when they needed to and this time their contribution added points to the scoreboard. As the time in the fourth quarter was nearly gone, the Jets had the ball and an opportunity to drive down the field and score a touchdown that would allow them to tie the game with a successful extra point. With thirty seconds remaining, Aqib Talib picked off Geno Smith’s pass and returned it 22-yards for a touchdown! The ensuing extra point was good and made the final score 31-17, improving the Broncos record to 4-1. While it wasn’t the best performance of the year for the Broncos, it was good enough for the win, and that is the most important thing. Peyton Manning’s three touchdown passes brought his career total to 506, two behind Brett Favre. Needless to say, Sunday night there will be a lot of talk about Manning setting a new record.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: Like the Broncos, I expected San Diego to escape Oakland and week six with an easy victory but that wasn’t the case. The 0-4 Raiders, behind interim head coach Tony Sparano, almost pulled the upset of week six but fell just short. With three minutes remaining, San Diego running back Brandon Oliver scored a one-yard rushing touchdown giving the Charges a 31-28 lead, which would be the final score. Both teams exchanged a touchdown each of the four quarters and the difference was Nick Novak’s 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Despite the close score, Philip Rivers had another good game completing 22 of his 34 pass attempts for 313 yards and three touchdowns. His counterpart, Raider quarterback Derek Carr, had a good game as well, completing 18 of his 34 attempts for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Brandon Oliver added 101 yards on the ground for the Chargers, who have struggled all season with running back production and injuries.
Kansas City Chiefs: Bye (Week 7 at San Diego)