The Week 17 matchup has turned into the biggest game of the year for the Denver Broncos.
The other 16 weeks mean nothing now that the Kansas City Chiefs are coming to town to play a spoiler on Sunday.
On New Year's Day, it will be up to the Broncos to bring a new offense and defense to the field and wash away their foul play from the last two weeks.
The key factor on Sunday will not be the quarterback—whose name I dare not mention for fear of reader polarization—but will instead be the defense.
The Broncos' new-look Orange Crush has been the biggest factor in turning Denver's season around. They'll need to reignite the flames and fury they exhibited in their six-game winning streak if they plan on playing when it really matters next month.
The return of Brian Dawkins is critical to this defense. He played a limited role against Buffalo and needs to make a serious comeback this week.
The two young safeties, who Denver was forced to start the previous week, were detrimental to the defense's well-being.
Even veteran Champ Bailey, the anchor, seemed lost in a secondary that was suddenly lacking definition and leadership.
In Week 17, this defense will be rewarded for a long and arduous season by getting the chance to face a quarterback they've chased around for two years.
Kyle Orton comes to town with an inside knowledge of Denver's defense, but with what I presume will be the lack of skills necessary to do anything about it.
This may turn into a battle of field-goal kickers, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the winning points come by way of a big defensive play on Denver's part.
Expect Denver to play efficient, mistake-free, but otherwise boring, football in the only game that matters anymore.
Denver 16, Kansas City 15
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