DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos is mobbed by his teamates after scoring the winning touchdown against New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Quite likely, this weekends game will make or break the season for the Denver Broncos. A month ago this team was in its death throes, only to surge forth to make a final push towards the playoffs and relevant football in January. The surge coincided with the adjustment of the offense from a pro-style to one that fits Tim Tebow ball. Since then, the Broncos have ripped off three straight wins and are a game back in the AFC West.
I fully expect the Oakland Raiders to fade down the stretch as they are too undisciplined to compete against the quality opponents they face in the next six games. Even so, thanks to that 1-4 start the Broncos also have a nice large hole they are still trying to scrape and claw their way out of. Losing to any divisional foe here on out will crush our playoff hopes.
This makes the game this weekend against the San Diego Chargers the most important game of the year. It's do or die. Seize the moment or fade away into mediocrity.
Late in the game with a game in doubt is Tebow Time, but it is the team that is winning football games. I have not personally seen this kind of chemistry and confidence from this team's defense since early 2006. Which is also the last time Phillip Rivers was confounded and frustrated by a Denver Broncos defense. It's time to put his reign to an end.
And thanks to Tebow Time, all we ask is that the game is kept close. Two scores is too many. San Diego has dodged the Tebow Time bullet twice in the last two seasons, but they will not dodge it a third time. It is this team's time to shine. Keep track of any developing story:
The Broncos have been improving on defense each week, but have been regressing on offense each week as well. Tebow's passes are more on target, but now Denver wide receivers are plagued with drops. This may be due to them needing to get used to Tebow's throws. As the chemistry builds the number of drops will, well, drop.
Denver Broncos Team Stats - Game Averages
|Off||20.5||309.2 (27th)||154.3 (31st)||154.9 (4th)|
|Def||24.7||356.4 (17th)||242.3 (19th)||114.1 (15th)|
The Chargers on the other hand have seen the wheels come completely off their team over the past month. It appears beating the Broncos earlier in the year was a death knell they have yet to recover. The Broncos may once again catch an opponent at the perfect time. The Chargers are solid against the pass, but the Broncos don't pass. The Chargers tend to get gashed on the ground game and with Willis McGahee back the Broncos should be able to move the ball and control the clock.
The game may come down to the Broncos third down conversions. Tebow has to improve in that area, but if the game is close there is no guy I want under center than Tim Tebow.
San Diego Chargers Team Stats - Game Averages
|Off||23.6||390.2 (7th)||287.8 (4th)||102.4 (18th)|
|Def||25.9||336.1 (10th)||211.7 (8th)||124.4 (24th)|
The road to the playoffs is never paved. It's a rocky road through hell and only a team united will be able to forge a path through. It's been so long I can nearly taste it. Ironically, even if the Raiders somehow find a way to stay a game ahead in the AFC West the Broncos could control their destiny for the #6 seed in the AFC.
Everyone assumes only one team will come from the AFC West division. I would bet the #6 seed will likely have a 9-7 record. For fun, let's assume the Broncos reach that mark. It would be a great finish to what is shaping up to be a memorable season for our struggling franchise.
First let's take a look at the playoff picture for the AFC, including only the teams tied or ahead of the Broncos right now.
|AFC Wild Card Seeds|
|New York Jets||5-5||4-5||0-1|
|Buffalo Bills||5-5||3-3||Week 16|
Obviously, the two teams that absolutely control their own destiny are the Ravens and Bengals, but of those two I think the Bengals will falter badly down the stretch. They play both the Ravens and Steelers again and could theoretically finish the season with just nine wins. If that happens, a 9-7 Broncos team would get in over the Bengals.
Beyond that, the Broncos control their fate over the Jets as well and could also top the Bills to put them out of contention. That would leave just the Tennessee Titans to contend with. Going from 5-5 to 9-7 is not going to be easy for any of those teams as the end of the year is when teams play their hardest.
It's still too early to get worked up over this, but given how its shaped up right now I like the position the Broncos have played their way into. If it does come down to the wire, I just hope that Titans loss isn't what decides our fate. Either way, its fun to have something like this to talk about with six games left in the season.
Seize the Moment
Talking about the playoff picture brings me back on point. This team must seize the moment this weekend against the Chargers. A win this weekend would mean we can really start to look at these playoff scenarios. It would also mean the Broncos are more than just a "hot" team. It will mean they are a good team.
As December approaches, its nice to be and feel relevant again.