Last week the Denver Broncos had a chance to lockup a playoff berth by beating the underachieving Bills. Most people expected them to earn an easy victory and win the AFC West, instead they took a beating.
The Broncos lost the game 40-14, while the Oakland Raiders won their game 16-13. This put both teams at 8-7 going into Week 17. Now it’s do or die for the Broncos, who control their own destiny. Win and you’re in, lose and you know the rest.
The Raiders will play the Chargers this week, a team who was eliminated from the playoff hunt last week and have nothing left to play for really. I’m not saying that the Raiders are guaranteed a victory, but if the Broncos expect anything less, they could be watching the playoffs from their television sets instead of playing in them.
Denver will match up against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17. This is a very winnable game for the Broncos, but that doesn’t mean they can slack off. When they slack off, things like last week’s blowout loss to the Bills happen. Here are just a few things that the Broncos can do to make sure they win Sunday and lock up the AFC West.
Quite possibly the biggest reason for the Denver Broncos success has been their defense. The Broncos defense has found new confidence ever since that Miami Dolphins game (Tim Tebow’s first game as a starter this season). They have been much improved and have kept Denver in close games, allowing them to get the fourth quarter victories that Broncos QB, Tim Tebow is so famous for this season.
They were all M.I.A. against the Buffalo Bills last week. There came those key moments where the Broncos could’ve used a big hit, sack, interception, anything to shift the momentum back into the Broncos’ hands, and they didn’t get it.
Instead we saw big runs from C.J. Spiller, even Fitzpatrick took off a few times for a first down. Spiller racked up 111 yards on the ground, something the Broncos cannot allow Kansas City to do. Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle may not be elite level RBs, but neither was Spiller. The Broncos will need to step it up and stop the run.
The passing game is one you’ll have to keep an eye on as well. Former Broncos QB Kyle Orton might be looking for some poetic justice this week. After losing his starting job to Tebow and being waived by the Broncos, he has a chance to keep them from making the playoffs. Orton has 599 yards through the air in two starts for the Chiefs (1 299 yard game, 1 300 yard game).
The Broncos cannot afford to give up those kind of numbers. Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins and the rest of the secondary need to be working hard on Sunday.
Special teams will play a key role as well. Many football fans do not realize that special teams are just as important as offense or defense. Broncos’ special teams versus the Bills were atrocious at best, giving up long punt and kick returns. One punt return even went 80 yards for the touchdown.
The Broncos need to do a better job of tackling the return man and not allowing any big gains.
The Broncos have been a better team since the Tebow takeover. They have done this through great defensive play and a run-heavy offense. That will be the key to beating the Chiefs. Against the Bills, there were one too many passes for this Broncos offense. D
on’t get me wrong, you have to throw the ball, but the Broncos success is based off that running offense. Let McGahee, Ball run with it, run the option plays, throw the screen passes, know what you’re best at and execute it.
This has stuck with me since last week. I was actually lucky enough to be in attendance for the game last week. Sitting up close, I got to see everything that was happening in that game. One play that I still remember clearly is a 3rd-and-1 for the Broncos. They pitch the ball out and get stopped for a loss.
In that situation you have to use your scrambling QB. You know Tebow can run the ball without getting hurt, you know he can even break a tackle or more, why not put that to use? When you have a QB that can run the ball, it really adds one more dimension to your offense.
I know there are many people out there who are calling on Tebow to make more throws, but at the end of the day, it’s about getting the victory, and if he’s getting the victory using his legs rather than his arm, it doesn’t matter. Ask the New York Jets.
Now speaking of throwing the ball, one thing that Denver will have to do effectively on Sunday is throw the ball. I don’t care if you’re calling five passing plays, 10, 20 or you’re doing it every play, you have to throw the ball effectively.
Despite what anyone might try to tell you about Tim Tebow not being able to throw the ball, Tebow is a good passer. If you look back to the Broncos-Patriots game, when comparing Tebow’s throw to Tom Brady, it showed that there is little difference between the two.
Now as I recall, Brady is the most accurate passer in the league, correct? Tebow has improved as a passer. One thing I’d look for him to work on is not overthrowing it or underthrowing it. If he keeps that in check, he’s as good as any QB in the league.
Tebow has developed some nice chemistry with his receivers and should look to throw the ball before he has to use his feet for a pickup of yardage. Tebow can throw; he just doesn’t choose to at times.
As entertaining as the fourth quarter comebacks are, the Broncos should look to jump ahead early. I don’t care how it’s done, it has to be. Whether it’s running McGahee wild, throwing in some trick play to throw the Chiefs defense off, or telling Tim Tebow it’s the fourth quarter when it’s only the first.
If the Broncos can jump out to an early 14-0, then this game gets a whole lot easier for Denver. It takes pressure off the defense, one mistake will not cost you the game. That doesn’t mean they can just put things into cruise control, but it gives them the freedom to run more blitzes if they wish, or drop back into coverage more often. It will give them some flexibility with how they run their defense.
It also takes pressure off Tebow and the offense. It lets them be more conservative with the play-calling, knowing they have a lead. Similar to what they had done the first time they played Kansas, you call so many runs that when you finally call a passing playing they won’t be ready for it. Eric Decker will agree with me on that one.
Bottom line is, an early lead will almost guarantee this team a victory against Kansas City.
You can always have a game plan, things you want to do, but it’s not always going to work out. So if nothing’s work too well and you’re done, unleash Tebowtime. Have one of those fourth quarter that fans have come to expect from Denver. Give Tebow the ball and let him do what he does best: win.
Those comebacks are never easy, despite how easy Tebow might make them seem sometimes. However, they are accomplishable and Denver has proven that. So if you go into the fourth quarter down 7 or 14 points, put the ball in the hands of Tebow, and from that point, all you can do, is have some faith.
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