Dec 14, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter gainst the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Decker, Broncos Country’s eyes are on you once again.
Will you finally deliver in a big game for the Denver Broncos? Or will you do what you so often do and disappear, crying for pass interference calls?
Since you play for the New York Jets now, you won’t get this chance very often. So you best take advantage of these big games when they come around. It may not make up for your vanishing act in the Super Bowl, but if you were to have a big game today against the New England Patriots, you might get back some love from Broncos Country.
Before the Broncos kickoff on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals, they will know where they stand in the race for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the AFC.
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The Broncos will know if they still have a chance to get it.
No doubt Denver (11-3) has to win its last two games. If it loses one of those games against the Bengals or the Oakland Raiders, that all but ends the chance of the road to the Super Bowl going through the Mile High City. There is no way the Patriots will lose both games against the Jets and Buffalo Bills.
If Decker and the Jets beat New England, the Broncos will get home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. That would be the third-straight time Denver will have that distinction.
The importance of Monday Night’s game shoots up if that happens.
Don’t think New York will upset the Patriots? New England deactivated three starters on offense, including receiver Julian Edelman. And Jets coach Rex Ryan would love nothing more than to stick it the Patriots in what many think his penultimate game as head coach.
Dec 14, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos strong safety David Bruton (30) and cornerback Aqib Talib (21) tackle San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver (43) during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
If Denver wins out, that would mean the Broncos finish 13-3. Given Denver’s history with that record, it might make anyone with superstitious tendencies a little uneasy. There was the playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996, the playoff loss against the Baltimore Ravens two years ago and the Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
If Denver and New England finish with the same record, the Patriots get home-field advantage given the head-to-head.
And it’s all moot if Denver loses. There is no way New England loses its last two games.
Still, it’s fun to talk and think about. Most think the Broncos have no chance if they don’t get home-field advantage.
That means people will say Denver has no shot going into Foxborough and beating New England; especially when you consider what happened this season and the last few times Denver has played there.
“Peyton Manning will once again come up short.”
“Manning is no match for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.”
Just remember these same people would have said the same in 1997, and we know how that ended.
After today, we should have a clearer picture of how the Broncos could make their way to Arizona in February.
For Denver to win its third Lombardi Trophy, it may have to channel its inner 1997-98 Broncos.
Unless Decker decides to finally show up in a big game.
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) attempts to catch a touchdown pass against Tennessee Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) during the second half at LP Field. Jets won 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports