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Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Denver is back in the playoffs, hopefully to stay. With their win (and one needs never to apologize for a win) over Jacksonville last week and Miami’s loss, Denver slid into the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. This seems to me a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that they have dealt with injury, have a second year starter at quarterback who has missed two games and parts of a third and have a dealt with the brutal schedule that befits a Super Bowl Champion.
Things don’t let up this week. The game in Tennessee, which may have looked like a walkover when schedules were announced in the spring, looks quite different today. There is work to be done. I think Denver can do it, but it won’t be easy.
KEY MATCH UP
Denver has to stop Tennessee’s running game. Certainly Marcus Mariota has become a deep passing threat this year – he’s one of the best deep passers in the league – but all of that long work is predicated on the crushing running game. Denver’s defense, still excellent, has shown two significant weaknesses this year. It has been challenged by strong running game and strong running quarterbacks. Tennessee has both. I like the idea of Mariota throwing against the No Fly Zone. I don’t like the idea of Tennessee running the ball down Denver’s throat. If Tennessee gets the run game going, things are going to be bleak for Denver.
Is Justin Forsett the answer? Denver’s new running back arrived this week with knowledge of the offense, a chip on his shoulder and very fresh legs.
He’s going to need them and Denver needs him.
Forsett has been great in the past and, specifically, great for Kubiak. He wants to prove that he is not done in the League though he’s been cut by two teams this year.
Denver needs a spark in their running game and they are running out of time to find it. Perhaps Forsett can raise the bar and he and Devontae Booker can generate the type of ground game a playoff team needs.
After this one, Denver has New England, Kansas City and Oakland. So, yeah. Win this one, fellas. It doesn’t get any easier from here.
At worst, Denver must win 3 of the next 4 games to solidify their playoff positioning and, more importantly, to round into shape as a contender. By any calculus, 1 of those 3 games must be won this Sunday.
This is going to be a close one – aren’t all Denver’s games close? – but Denver, with Trevor Siemian back at the helm, will pull it out.
Look for Forsett to look good. Look for Khalif Raymond to look great.