Although the Denver Broncos were 8-point favorites against Kansas City last Sunday night, per Las Vegas sports books, their 27-17 victory against the Chiefs was gratifying to fans on many levels.
As was confirmed on numerous prediction shows on NFL Network and ESPN (last week on NFL Playbook, analysts Brian Baldinger and Shaun O’Hara both picked Kansas City to win), Denver was undervalued because of the Chiefs’ defense which entering Sunday, had given up only 12 points per contest.
Nevertheless, what the Broncos showed Sunday was that a precision passing game and speed at the skill positions can beat a statistical behemoth, which brings us to the New England Patriots, a worthy adversary which has, surprisingly been under the radar for much of the season.
The Patriots’ defense has carried the team through the first portion of the season, having only surrendered only 19.9 points per game in 2013, although key defenders such as defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo are out for the season with a litany of injuries.
However, Tom Brady has found his groove with new receivers such as Kenbrell Thompkins while tight end Rob Gronkowski has provided another element to the offense although New England is only 2-2 in his return, having lost tight games to the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers on the road.
While the Broncos posted a season-low 27 points Sunday night, the team is still posting an NFL-best 39.8 points per outing and the point differential remains a league-best 14.3 points per contest.
Nevertheless, what has impacted the Broncos more fully is a Von Miller who is fully in the swing of things of late.
Since an October 27 date with the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Broncos’ defense has surrendered only 19.3 points per contest, as well as 313 net yards per game.
The improved scoring defense represents a 6.2 point swing per game, so more than a touchdown has been shaved off since Miller has been a solidly contributing part of the lineup, while Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan ( a team-best 5 forced turnovers) and Terrance Knighton have all greatly contributed to interim head coach/defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s scheme.
Of course, to be perfectly honest, for as good as these defenses have been, the rational fan who has seen Manning and Brady go toe-to-toe through the years can come to no other conclusion than that a shootout is in the cards.
In eight of the 14 games when Brady and Manning’s teams have gone head-to-head, the winning team has scored 30 or more points so history has shown, outscoring your opponent, rather than stopping them, is the way to go.
In short, both teams have a lot on the line as if Kansas City beats San Diego and if Denver should lose, the Chiefs would regain the #1 seed in the AFC and host the Broncos December 1, while a New England win could vault the Patriots clearly into the #2 seed, especially if current #2 Indianapolis loses at Glendale, Ariz. Sunday against the resurgent Cardinals.
Nevertheless, if the Broncos win, Kansas City is placed into a win or else scenario the following Sunday so as is always the case, winning is the best scenario.