Hello folks! It's time for the Christmas edition of "Unfinished Business". I will talk about the record-setting game against Houston and take a look at the hapless Oakland Raiders to wrap up the regular season.
Texans - The Broncos came to Houston to get their swagger back after the Chargers loss. The Texans were mainly playing for pride and future employment. Denver had a lot to lose coming in with playoff seeding and having not yet won the AFC West.
The game started well with the defense holding the Texans to a 3-and out. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the yellow flags were flying early and often. Special Teams were still riding the short bus with some bad return penalties and Trindon Holliday having fielding issues. At least he recovered his mistake and Denver had no turnovers on the day. They also gave up a long punt return that fortunately only led to a FG thanks to the Defense. Matt Prater hit all of his FGs to continue his solid season.
Defensively, the Broncos were a mixed bag. While holding Houston to a number of 3-and-outs, they also gave up some huge plays. Von Miller went down with a knee injury and is out for the season. Houston had some big drops by their WRs and this game could have been much closer. Fortunately Matt Schaub was still in a giving mood with two interceptions (including a huge momentum changing pick-off by Mike Adams) and should have had a fumble credited to him as well, but Ed Hochuli said no. Denver also netted three sacks and solid tackling was happening all over the field. There is still an issue of playing zone defense and that there are still players on the field that have no business being there (Omar Bolden, Tony Carter, etc...). There was a Champ Bailey sighting and there was no news as far as injuries or giving up any big plays. Considering how his season has gone, this was great news.
Offensively, the Broncos were "Jekyll and Hyde" in their performance. There were times of very ugly with being 2-11 on 3rd downs and 0-1 on 4th downs as well as a few 3-and-outs. Also there were times of very good. Team rushing was solid (114 yards) with both Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball getting some solid gains. Peyton Manning smashed the TD record in the 4th quarter and hit 400 yards passing. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas both had over 100 yards receiving and accounted for 3 TDs. Julius Thomas caught Manning's record breaking TD pass to make the score 37-13. Denver won the game and thanks to the Chiefs losing to the Colts, also won the AFC West for the third straight year. Sadly, the Ravens got stomped by the Patriots so Denver only gets a first round bye, but not yet home-field advantage. Had the Ratbirds taken care of business, Denver would be able to rest guys for next week. Maybe this will be a good thing since Denver's playoff history of resting starters has not been very good. Besides this next game is against a hated rival. With that it's time to focus on the next foe......
Raiders - Oakland comes into this game with a 4-11 record having lost to San Diego. The game was closer than what the score indicated. As usual, the Raiders were flagged 16 times which gave the Chargers new life on some of their drives. At this time, the Raiders were led by rookie QB Matt McGloin. McGloin has some flashes of talent, but plays and makes mistakes that is normal for rookie QBs. Unfortunately Denver won't get to see McGloin and as of now, it looks like Terrelle Pryor will be the starting QB against the Broncos. Denver faced Pryor in their last meeting and knocked him out of the game with a concussion. With this news, Denver will have to focus on the run. Their primary threats on offense are Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden on the ground as well as Marcel Reece. Their WR/TE corps have some talent, but there are no big names that take over games.
Defensively, Oakland has a solid front seven, but has given up some huge plays in recent weeks. Last game they gave up almost 100 yards to Ryan Mathews and Jamaal Charles seemed to score at will on them in Week 15. If Denver wants to silence the "Black Hole" and make Oakland continue as the football wasteland, then they need to play smart football. Too many times in the Houston game, the OL shot themselves in the foot with holding and formation penalties. Because this is a division game, the Raiders will be baiting people into flags. As long as there is discipline on all phases, the Broncos should win. There is home-field advantage a stake and Denver will have to play all of their starters to get the win. Thanks to the flexing of the Pats game, Denver will not be able to pull people back. If I were coaching the Broncos, I would get the running game going so Manning is not having to throw 50 times. There is another passing record in reach if Peyton passes for over 266 yards. If he gets the record, that's great. The main focus needs to be on getting the win and home-field in the playoffs. The defense must get Pryor rattled and shut down the run. As long as they accomplish this, the Broncos should be able to win handily. If they are sloppy, all bets are off.
Well, that is all I have for now. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and look forward to the post-season. As always...GO BRONCOS!!!