With the season nearly halfway complete, we take a look at the Denver Broncos and the rest of the AFC West in our weekly divisional preview.
The Denver Broncos get the second half of their season under way with a nationally televised, prime time match-up against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. This rivalry will have more meaning this week. Both teams are battling for first place. For my thoughts and prediction on this game, as well as the other week eight games featuring AFC West teams, please continue reading.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: To say this game is a must-win for the Broncos would be a huge understatement! After eight weeks, the Raiders and Broncos sit atop the AFC West with impressive 6-2 records. In recent years, while the Broncos definitely trended up, the Raiders hung out in the cellar of the division, if not the whole NFL.
The past is the past so todays Broncos have to take care of today’s business today – and that is it! The Broncos running game was sub par against the San Diego Chargers in week eight. Today the Broncos face the 25th ranked rush defense which means I would expect to a heavy dose of running, hopefully setting up long pass plays later in the game.
If the running game does take off today it will start with the five guys up front! The offensive line will be a key to a great offensive performance today. Note to offensive line: PLEASE keep Khalil Mack in check. Last year when the Raiders visited Denver he had 5.0 sacks! Output even half that good today could help the Raiders gain sole possession of first place.
Derek Carr is having a great year – let’s hope that is put on pause today when he meets the Broncos defense up close. In order for the Broncos to notch their seventh win of the season, the defense will have to rise up and shut down the Raiders offense. Which I have no doubt they are up for the challenge.
Prediction: Denver 30, Oakland 24 OT
Oct 30, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Nick Foles (4) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City defeats Indianapolis 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs: Like the Broncos and Raiders, the Chiefs face must-win game as well. For the Chiefs, it is to just keep pace, rather than take the lead in the division. While I would love to see the Chiefs fall farther back in the division race, I don’t see Jacksonville coming into Arrowhead and upsetting the Chiefs.
The Jaguars limp into Arrowhead today on a two-game losing streak and an unimpressive overall record of 2-5. The Chiefs on the other hand sit at 5-2 and are undefeated at home.
Nick Foles will get the start over an injured Alex Smith, and Spencer Ware being sidelined, I still expect Kansas City to win big. Hey, maybe the Jaguars will surprise me today!
Prediction: Kansas City 31, Jacksonville 10
Oct 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) drops back to pass in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers: With half the season already behind us, it is no surprise that the Chargers game today against the Titans has to be considered a must-win! The Chargers are in the bottom of the division at 3-5 and still have home games remaining against Oakland and Kansas City. The Titans find themselves in second place in the AFC South at 4-4. A lot of football remains and at any given time, teams can go on streaks – winning streaks or losing streaks.
Today’s game features the young quarterback against the old quarterback. Marcus Mariota is in his second year and is 23 years young; quite the contrast of the 13-year veteran for the Chargers – Philip Rivers turns 35 this December. Even though the quarterback is only one position, it is the most important position on the field. As much as I hate to say it, I think the experience of Rivers will be key for the Chargers.