The Miami Dolphins deserve a stack of thank you cards if the Broncos win the Super Bowl this season. The early matchup in south Florida served as the only meaningful game for Denver in week 15 Sunday.
And it didn’t disappoint.
After the Dolphins scored a late go-ahead touchdown, I immediately looked at the game clock and shook my head. Tom Brady had plenty of time to drive down the field.
But I also knew there was no way the Pats could keep winning games in the final seconds.
Brady threw an interception in the end zone, ultimately shoving John Fox and company back into the number one slot in the AFC.
We’ve seen a handful of wild card teams break the hearts of top seeds in recent years, eliminating the notion that home field advantage is a necessity to win a Super Bowl.
Chances wouldn’t be in Denver’s favor though if they had to play in Foxborough next month for the AFC championship game.
Hours after New England lost, the Steelers pounced on the Bengals, who could have stolen the number two seed with a win.
When was the last time that the top three teams in a conference lost in the same week in December?
If we learned anything from the wackiness in week 15, it’s this.
Every team, regardless of record, has issues.
The Broncos major flaw remains on the defensive side of the ball. Houston and Oakland put anything but a solid offensive team on the field. Holding these teams to fewer than 20 points could be a huge confidence boost.
Tom Brady in January will always be scary. But the loss of Rob Gronkowski kills New England’s chances of advancing to the Super Bowl. Unless the Broncos beat themselves, there are few scenarios where Bill Belichick creates a game plan that beats Denver at Sports Authority Field.
Last night proved that the Bengals are still, well, the Bengals. Even with A.J. Green and a top defense, they lack an ability to win big games.
The Colts look like a completely different team from the one that handed the Broncos their first loss in October. The season-ending injury to Reggie Wayne parallels the struggles of the Pats without Gronk.
The most dangerous matchups for the Broncos might come from a wild card team.
A lot can change in two weeks, but it looks like the Chiefs and Dolphins will hold the final two playoff spots in the AFC.
In their last four games, the Chiefs scored 167 points (nearly 42 per game). The Broncos scored 137 points in that same stretch (just over 34 per game). Alex Smith apparently got tired of being labeled the “game manager” and has taken it out on opposing defenses.
The Broncos defense better figure it out before January 11, because Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith would love nothing more than to have to gameplan for the Denver defense for a shot at advancing.
Three keys for the final regular season games
- Take advantage of the weather. Playing in Houston and Oakland will be like a desert vacation for the Broncos. Even in 70 degree weather, Peyton Manning probably still wears a glove to prepare for the postseason.
- The Champ is here. Champ Bailey supposedly will suit up Sunday. Even on one foot, Bailey should inject confidence into a depleted secondary.
- Win, however possible. Emergency signals will blare across the Rocky Mountain region if the Broncos lose either of these games. This isn’t the NCAA, where style points matter.
Broncos-41 (potentially led by Brock Osweiler in second half), Raiders-24