SB Nation - 2 (1)
Poised to all but lock up the AFC's No. 1 overall seed, the Broncos tripped over themselves and coughed up a surprising home loss to the Chargers. Manning appeared to miss the easy chain-moving candy offered by Wes Welker as he uncharacteristically held the ball for too long on several occasions. To be sure, Manning and the rest of the offense didn't see too much of the ball as their defense got absolutely shoved around by Ryan Mathews and couldn't get off the field. Pending slaughters of the Texans and Raiders will render Thursday's result moot, but it's worth noting that the Broncos haven't been giving off that all-around, swaggering juggernaut vibe in quite a while.
I had a nagging feeling about the Broncos game on Thursday Night Football. My view has always been that Philip Rivers is far more dangerous to the Broncos defense than Alex Smith and with Peyton Manning just four days removed from throwing 60 passes against the Titans, I was very concerned. Also, who here thinks Paris Lenon is any kind of upgrade over Woodyard? I just don't see it. Fortunately for the Broncos, both the Patriots and the Bengals choked this week too, so homefield advantage is still the Broncos to take.
ESPN - 2 (2)
A Denver hiccup Thursday was excused when everyone else did the same Sunday. The Broncos should have home-field advantage, especially finishing against the Raiders and Texans -- a combined 6-22.
They looked lifeless against the Chargers and the defense isn't getting the job done. That's a worry going forward.
The offense can't score 35 points every week and when they don't the defense needs to come through. I still like them for the Super Bowl from the AFC.
(333 points - 0 first place votes). The AP Pro32 is determined by a simple points system based on how each voter ranks the NFL's 32 teams. A team receives 32 points for each first place vote, 31 for second place and so on through to the 32nd team, which receives one point.
FOX Sports - 3 (2)
The Broncos had just 18 rushing yards against the Chargers on Thursday night after averaging 124.4 in the first 14 weeks.
NFL.com - 2 (2)
The secondary continues to be the weak link on a team that, at least on the surface, seems capable of beating anyone. Also of note: How the defense struggled versus the run in last Thursday's 27-20 loss to the Chargers. The Broncos allowed 177 rushing yards to San Diego, even though they knew it was coming. Ryan Mathews looked like a better version of Tatum Bell/Olandis Gary, gashing Denver for 127 yards and a score.
The Denver loss to San Diego turned out to be meaningless, but everyone made it out to be pretty big at the time. The Broncos, after all, relinquished homefield advantage in the AFC. The talking heads on TV were up in arms about this, but nothing they said compares to this e-mail I received after the game:
Average Ranking: 2.44
Average Change: -0.77
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