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News » Broncos should be looking over shoulders


Broncos should be looking over shoulders


Broncos should be looking over shoulders
Generally speaking, defense and turnovers are pretty important contributors to winning Football games. So a team as challenged in both areas as the Broncos has plenty to be thankful for this week, sitting on a two-game division lead with five to play.


Nevertheless, the familiar warning applies: Objects in the rearview are closer than they appear.

The doomsday scenario for the Broncos is coming into focus with each loss to a division doormat. It begins with the Chargers picking up one game in the standings during the next four weeks, perhaps this weekend, when oddsmakers like them at home against the Falcons and the Jets at home against the Broncos.

It continues with the Chargers, at home, beating the Broncos in the season finale, pulling into a tie for the division lead.

It concludes with the Chargers winning the second tiebreaker - division record - because of the Broncos' surprising losses to the Chiefs and Raiders, with a combined record at the moment of 4-18.

The doomsday part is the Broncos could lead the division all season and lose it in a tiebreaker on the final day.

Assuming the Broncos beat the Chiefs at home next weekend, losing to the Chargers on the final weekend would give them three division losses.

Assuming they win the finale, the Chargers would have to lose to Oakland at home and Kansas City on the road - just as the Broncos did - to finish with three division losses. If they do that, they won't be in a position to tie at the end anyway.

Granted, there are many other possible outcomes during the next five weekends. The Broncos could pull road upsets at the Meadowlands or Carolina, as they did in Atlanta two weeks ago. San Diego could lose at Kansas City, having edged the Chiefs at home by a single point earlier this month.

But the quality of opponents suggests the Chargers' chances of making up one game during the next four weeks are reasonably good. San Diego's opponents during that span have a record of 19-25. Denver's are 23-21.

The Broncos have road games against the Jets and Panthers and home games against the Chiefs and Bills. So far, they are better on the road (3-2) than at home (3-3).

The Chargers have road games against the Chiefs and Buccaneers, home games against the Falcons and Raiders. They have won only once on the road all year.

On the Broncos' side of the argument is the old Bill Parcells rule. If the Chargers are what their record says they are (4-7), they will self-destruct rather than catch up. A 4-7 team could very well become the Chiefs' second victim at Arrowhead.

Without Shawne Merriman, the Chargers feature the worst pass defense in the NFL. Because of their record during the past two seasons (25-7), people may be expecting them to do things they can't do anymore.

Still, they have the league's top-rated passer in Philip Rivers. And if you're going to pin their identity on their record, you probably have to concede that, without referee Ed Hochuli's blown call in the season's second week, San Diego and Denver are both 5-6 right now. Neither really resembles a playoff team, but one of them will be, just the same.

Despite the respective records, the Chargers have scored more points than the Broncos (274-258) and given up fewer (252-302). They have done this against opponents with a combined record of 66-55. Against opponents with a record of 53-68, the Broncos have given up more points than they have scored.

The silver lining for the Broncos is their point production doesn't reflect their offensive explosiveness, mostly because of turnovers. While they rank just 14th in points, they are second in yardage, at 382.5 per game.

If the Broncos can limit their turnovers down the stretch, they might put up points reflecting their offensive strength, which would make them a better team than they have been.

Their defensive numbers, on the other hand, have no silver lining. They are 28th in the league in both yardage (380.4 per game) and points allowed (27.5). On the bright side, the Chargers aren't much better (26th and 21st).

Predictions about the Broncos have been worth even less than usual this year. Virtually no one had them winning at Atlanta two weeks ago or losing at home to Oakland a week later. Obviously, anything can still happen. Even the Raiders aren't out of it yet, which is a little sad.

Still, all the Chargers have to do is pick up one game in the standings during the next four weeks to give them a chance to play for the division and the playoffs in the finale.

"We'll get another shot at them later in the year," Rivers said after the Broncos' controversial one-point win in September. "Hopefully, it'll be for all the marbles."

If it is, the Broncos will have the Chiefs and Raiders to thank.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

Jean-Philippe Darche Name: Jean-Philippe Darche
#51
Position: C
Age: 33
Experience: 9 years
College: McGill
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