According to today’s ESPN NFL power rankings, the Broncos are in second place, right behind the Patriots who destroyed the 11-1 Texans on National TV last night.
Frighteningly, the chasm between the Pats and every other team in the league seems to have grown. They’re just incredible. Tom Brady’s offense made mincemeat of the Texans’ defense, which was considered dominant entering last night’s match-up. But it’s not the Pats’ offense that Broncos fans should find most worrisome. It’s the fact that they have developed a defense that has me losing sleep.
New England has been in the mix for a decade. Their weakness has always been on the defensive side of the ball, though. You could always count on the Patriots to outscore everybody. Now their outscoring everybody AND shutting them down. It’s a scary mix.
The Broncos want no part of the Patriots in the post-season. Most importantly, they don’t want last years scenario to play out - where they host a Wild Card game at home one week and head to New England the following week, with those guys having rested up the week before. Denver has got to somehow end up with the second seeding and a bye week so that they won’t see that Patriots until the AFC Championship game and so that Peyton Manning will have a week to rest.
The Broncos don’t control their own fate where their seeding is concerned. Even if they win their next three tilts, including next Sunday’s critical one in Baltimore, they will need external assistance to elevate to 2nd place in the AFC standings. Specifically, they would need the Colts to handle the Texans twice. That’s not going to happen. The more likely scenario would have New England losing to San Francisco while the Broncos win out. That would make the Patriots the third seed and Denver the second. So Go Niners!
What this all points out is how critical Denver’s early season losses are proving to be. Both Houston and New England hold tie-breakers over the Broncos. If all three teams finish with identical records, the Broncos are low-team on the totem pole. But there’s no sense crying over spilled milk.
Denver can only avoid New England for so long. Unless some rogue club like the Colts are to somehow sweep Tom Brady and company away, we’re going to have to face them eventually. Even if that game is held in Denver New England will be favored. So, how far have the Broncos come? Are they good enough to handle the Patriots? Well, it’s the NFL so you just never know. Any given Sunday and all that.