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Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Are we in must win territory?
If the playoffs started today, the 7 – 4 Broncos would be home watching them, unable to mount a defense of their Super Bowl win. Ouch.
Last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs was a heartbreaker on a number of levels. Though I know it was arguably the best game of the NFL season (or 3 of the best quarters of the season – the 2nd half and overtime), going into it, it was clear that the loser of the tilt would have an uphill climb making the playoffs and an almost impossible task winning the division.
So here we are. The Broncos need to beat the Jaguars this Sunday. Period. They must win 4 of their next 5 to remain in the playoff mix and this game looks to be the easiest 1 to take. Drop this game, and we truly might be looking to next season with 4 more to play.
KEY MATCH UP
The Broncos defense showed up and played big for about 55 minutes last Sunday. Then they wilted. Inexplicably. They wilted against a Chiefs offense that has been pedestrian at best over the course of the last few weeks. They allowed 14 points in the 4th quarter and overtime. Of all the stunning things that happened last Sunday, this has to be the most stunning.
The Jaguars have an good offense. I think. They certainly have players who are talented. The Denver defense must shut them down. Take them out of the game. Give them no reason to believe they can go toe-to-toe with them.
An early turnover would help mightily.
Who is going to play quarterback for the Broncos? As I write this, it sounds like Paxton Lynch may be starting both this week and next, so significant is the injury to Trevor Siemian’s foot. How does that change things? Coming off one of Siemian’s best games as a professional, the Broncos had to be feeling pretty good about the offense. Now with his loss (and the loss of full back Andy Janovich), the offense looks like a question mark.
The Broncos must have this game. They must find a way, with all the noise and distraction and attention, to win it in the early time slot on the road. I believe they will. I think the defense steps way up – perhaps provides a score – and shuts down the Jaguars. I think Paxton Lynch will look better than he did in his one start this year against the Falcons and I think the running game, even without Janovich, gets going here.
I think the Broncos take this and keep things interesting going forward.
If they lose, I won’t use the “Keep Calm” icon for the rest of the year.