Week 12 has several games with major playoff implications, and the Denver Broncos will be one of the teams that will come out with important victories this weekend.
Playoff positioning could be determined this weekend. A win could give one team home-field advantage, or it could even give a team the edge in the wild-card race.
There are no more undefeated or winless teams. Now that those teams have ended their streaks to start the season, it's time for NFL fans to turn their attention to the playoff picture.
This week's biggest games are full of reunions. New York Jets safety Ed Reed will make his second trip—with a second different team—back to Baltimore. Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will face the team that he helped lead to the playoffs last season. Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker will make his first trip back to Foxboro.
Here's a list of the full schedule for Week 12 as well predictions for the weekend's biggest games.
|11/21||8:25 p.m.||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||Saints|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Jacksonville Jaguars||Houston Texans||Texans|
|11/24||1 p.m.||San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||Panthers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||Steelers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||Bears|
|11/24||1 p.m.||New York Jets||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|11/24||4:05 p.m.||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||Titans|
|11/24||4:05 p.m.||Indianapolis Colts||Arizona Cardinals||Colts|
|11/24||4:25 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||Giants|
|11/24||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||Broncos|
|11/25||8:40 p.m.||San Francisco 49ers||Washington Redskins||49ers|
New York Jets (5-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-6)
This game could end up deciding the final AFC Wild Card. Yes, a battle of teams at and below .500 in Week 12 is meaningful.
The Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs are both going to make the playoffs. One will win the AFC West, and the other will likely grab the first Wild Card.
New York currently sits as the sixth seed. It has surprised the entire league by having five wins already and could stun everyone by making the playoffs. However, they need to go on a little run. Check out this stat that ESPN Stats & Info tweeted out on Sunday:
Via @EliasSports Jets are 1st team to alternate wins and losses in first 10 games of the season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 17, 2013
The Jets would be due for a win this week, but they have to go to Baltimore. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been yanked in two of the last three games, so there are a lot of concerns with New York's offense. He has only eight touchdowns to 16 interceptions on the season.
Baltimore has lost four of its last five games. Its last five losses have come by a combined 17 points. The Ravens have been in every game since getting blown out in their opener. They are only 4-6, but they are 3-1 at home.
Playing at home will give the Ravens the edge that they need, and Smith's mistakes will hurt the Jets. Baltimore has a few winnable games in the coming weeks, so look for this to be the start of a run for the Ravens.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 17 - New York Jets 13
Indianapolis Colts (7-3) vs. Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
This game is extremely intriguing. The Indianapolis Colts are running away with the AFC South, and the Arizona Cardinals are making a run at a Wild Card.
Indianapolis has a three-game lead, plus the tiebreaker, over the Tennessee Titans. The Colts can afford to lose a game or two down the stretch. They did a nice job of rebounding after getting blown out at home in Week 10 to beat the Titans last Thursday.
Who will win this game?
T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener will have to continue to make plays to help the Colts move the football. Running back Trent Richardson has averaged only 2.8 yards per carry with the Colts, and receiver Reggie Wayne is out for the year.
On the other side, the Cardinals are tied for second with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. They have won three straight games—and scored exactly 27 points in each game—to gain some momentum. However, their three wins have come against teams that are a combined 5-25.
This is a big test for Arizona. Quarterback Carson Palmer continues to get better, and he has thrown six touchdowns to only two interceptions during the winning streak. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu give the Cardinals good, young playmakers in the secondary.
In the end, the Colts are just too good. They are 4-1 away from home, and the Cardinals will have a tough time containing Andrew Luck.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 28 - Arizona Cardinals 21
Denver Broncos (9-1) vs. New England Patriots (7-2)
Depending on what happens in Week 11's Monday Night Football, this game could wind up deciding the top seed in the AFC. A prime-time matchup of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady will once again be the game of the week.
The Broncos just knocked off the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The victory put them in the driver's seat of the AFC West and the AFC. They are in the middle of a three-game stretch in which they play the Chiefs twice with the New England Patriots in the middle.
Who will win this showdown?
Manning is on his way to a fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award. He has already thrown for 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker each have at least nine touchdowns this season.
Brady is good, but he doesn't have the receivers that Manning has. Wideout Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski are both very good players, but the Patriots don't have the depth that the Broncos have.
Denver has Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno that it can use to run the ball. Both are dangerous threats and will force New England to at least respect the run.
The biggest reason the Patriots have a chance to stay in this game is that it's at home. They are a perfect 5-0 and have averaged 29.6 points per game at home this season.
New England is also at a slight disadvantage as they will have to host Denver on a "short" week. Its Monday night game in Carolina won't be easy, and then it has to turn around to play its biggest game of the year.
Brady is 9-4 against Manning, but he will have a hard time keeping pace with Manning in what figures to be a shootout.
Prediction: Denver Broncos 42 - New England Patriots 31
*All stats are via NFL.com