DENVER BRONCOS (8-4) at TENNESSEE TITANS (6-6) (Sunday,CBS, 11:00 am MT)
The Denver Broncos are 15-21-1 all-time during the regular-season against the Titans franchise as a whole, but have won 4-of-5 games since the former Houston Oilers relocated to Tennessee. December is ‘Go Time’ for NFL teams with postseason intentions and both of these teams share that goal. The Broncos are sitting in the final wildcard spot at the moment and the Titans are tied with Indy and the Texans to represent the AFC South in the playoffs.
One of the big questions this week in Denver is, which Quarterback will start?
Trevor Siemian’s seven wins are tied for the 3rd-most by a Bronco QB in his first 10 starts with the team, but he suffered a foot injury in Overtime against the Chiefs in Week 12 and will be a gametime decision. Rookie Paxton Lynch (35.0) was the lowest graded QB last week per PFF and though Denver came out with the win, the Broncos need steady play from the QB position, specifically on 3rd Downs, where they went 1 for 13 (7.6%) last week against the Jaguars.
We also know that in the Mile High city, a good running game can directly benefit the QB, and that it takes all eleven guys to perform as a unit. Inconsistent execution lapses have plagued the Bronco Offensive Line all season with the main culprit being that they haven’t started the same five guys for a long enough time to take care of most of those disparities. Injuries have factored in, but I’d add that coaching and play calling have affected this as well.
The other big question this week would be, how will the Running Backs do?
RB Kapri Bibbs showed two completely different contrasts of life in the NFL last week. He finally got the chance to do his thing after a few seasons lingering on the Practice Squad and making the final 53 out of Training Camp this year and his patience paid off with a 49 yard rushing day on 5 carries (9.8 avg), including runs of 24 and 13 yards. Unfortunately, he incurred a high ankle sprain to his left leg and landed on Injured Reserve.
Rookie Devontae Booker is still on track to become the 13th rookie in franchise history to lead the team in rushing. He leads Denver with 510 yards on 146 attempts (3.5 avg). However, after rushing for just 34 yards on 18 carries and forcing only two missed tackles, Booker knows he has the opportunity he wanted when he told all of Broncos Country that , “he didn’t come here to carry shoulder pads” back in May. In the post game presser after the Jaguars contest, Devontae said,
“It was [a] below average [performance]. In the second half we weren’t running the ball as effectively as we were in the first half. We just have to get better.”
As fortune would have it, or maybe a little bit of ‘Mile High Magic’ has escaped the stadium, Justin Forsett was claimed off waivers from Detroit and the Broncos reunited the 9th-year Running Back with Gary Kubiak, who shared time in Baltimore (2014) as well as Houston (2012). It is a rare thing to come across a skill position player who can go from street clothes to a significant role on a team in a matter of seven days, but that’s the gameplan this week.
The Titans are still favored by one point, so once more, the ‘No Fly Zone’ are underdogs. It’s okay, they are used to it.
…and those aren’t gargantuan odds.
– Kaptain Kirk