January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) attempts to avoid a sack by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) in the second half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It is no surprise that the Denver Broncos are sitting at 6-1 and the New England Patriots are sitting at 6-2 as the two teams prepare to face each other, yet again, to kick off the second half of the 2014 NFL season. For my thoughts on this game, as well as the week nine games featuring AFC West teams, please continue reading.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots: Once again, NFL fans will be treated to another rematch of two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks – Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. This is the sixteenth time the two quarterbacks have faced each other and Brady currently holds the upper hand with ten wins. Last year when the Broncos defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship it did even the playoff record between these two at two wins a piece. Football fans in general should relish this opportunity to watch two great quarterbacks go head-to-head because ultimately, Father Time will win the battle and football fans will only be able to reminisce about these games, rather than watch them year-in and year-out. I am sure that both quarterbacks would agree with me when I say that while watching these two quarterbacks go head-to-head is enjoyable and makes great entertainment, there is so much more riding on this game than that. If all goes as planned over the next two months, I would say the most important thing riding on this game is home-field advantage. Barring major injuries or a second half collapse, I fully expect these two teams to definitely be in contention for the top seed in the AFC come late December. The Broncos should have no reason not to be motivated going into this game. In addition to homefield advantage, the Broncos want to prove they can go to Foxborough and win. Recently, this road trip has brought a lot of misery and very little joy for the Broncos and their fans. The last time the Broncos won at New England was September 24, 2006 when they beat the Patriots 17-7. Since then, the Broncos have traveled to New England a total of four times and have lost the four games by an average score of 38-17. Of the four games, the closest game was last years game that saw the Patriots win 34-31 in overtime. While this game was the closest, it was also the most disappointing as well because the Broncos were leading 24-0 at halftime. I am no NFL coach, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Coach John Fox showed portions of that game this week during the Broncos preparation. As usual, I need to get out of the NFL prediction business because I am convinced that no matter how much analysis is done, the human factor makes it impossible to predict. Of course, a person can try, and occasionally you will get lucky, some more than others. Since I’m only a fan, I will go with my heart on this one because I want the Broncos to win. I probably want the Broncos to win this game more than the San Francisco 49ers game a couple of weeks ago only because it is New England, it’s in their home, and I would rather see Brady walk off the field with a loss than Manning. All that being said, the Broncos have a tremendous challenge ahead of them this weekend and I don’t know if they can overcome it. Do they have the pieces I place to win – absolutely and that is exactly what I’m hoping for! When the Broncos fly home Sunday evening I want them to be 7-1 and the Patriots to be 6-3!
San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins: After nine days off (or without a game), the 5-3 Chargers hit the road again to face the 4-3 Miami Dolphins. When I think of these two teams, the classic playoff game in 1982 always comes to mind. Kellen Winslow Sr. being helped off of the field afterwards is so clear in my mind, even after all these years! Considering both teams are looking up at Denver and New England in their respective divisions, this game is almost like a must win for them. While Denver and New England feature quarterbacks on the twilight of their careers, this game features two quarterbacks that will be expected to carry the torch when Manning and Brady retire; Ryan Tannehill more so (or longer) than Philip Rivers considering he is six years younger than Rivers. The Chargers are coming off of a 35-21 loss to the Broncos in week eight, while Miami beat Jacksonville Jaguars 27-13. While I’ve seen San Diego play more this season, it would be easy to say that they seem a bit better than the Dolphins but I think this game will be a toss up. The latest spread has the Miami Dolphins favored by 2-1/2 points, almost a toss up as I said. Of course, the best case scenario for the Broncos is for San Diego to fall to 5-4. Go Dolphins!
Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks: Looking at this game, I would say there is absolutely no way the Raiders will go to Seattle and win. For that very reason, this will probably be the upset of the week, if not the year! While I don’t think it’s possible, I would love to see the Raiders beat Seattle. What better way for the Raiders to get their very first win of the season against the defending Super Bowl champions. A Seattle loss in this game would definitely make the chink in the Champions armor a bit bigger or deeper than it already is this season! The Raiders are 0-7 and have lost each game by an average of 11 points. My heart says one thing and my head says another – I expect Seattle to win big, giving the Raiders an 0-8 record half-way through the season.
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs: Similar to the Raiders and Seahawks game, I would love to see the Jets go to Kansas City and win, but I just don’t think it will happen. Rex Ryan has benched Geno Smith in favor of Michael Vick but I don’t think it will be enough to beat Kansas City at Arrowhead. The last time Eric Decker was at Arrowhead, he had eight catches for 174-yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, for Decker and Jets fans, Peyton Manning was on the other end of those passes, which won’t be the case this weekend. I expect the Chiefs to win this game easily, improving their record to 5-3 and ever closer to second place in the division. While I think the Chiefs will win this game, this is one that I would gladly miss! Not only would a Jets victory bring me joy, it would also benefit the Broncos! J-E-T-S, J-E-T-S, J-E-T-S!
Go Broncos – beat the Patriots!