Would the last one please turn out the lights?
December 20, 2016
Danger, Will Robinson, danger.
And while we do have a propensity for starting the weekly NFL column with obscure television references, that would be a generous assessment of the Denver Broncos' playoff chances after last week's predictable 16-3 loss to New England.
The basic analysis of Week 15 for the Broncos is that the Pats are simply a better team. You can harp all you want on Trevor Siemian for throwing the key interception to Logan Ryan that led to a 14-point swing. But essentially-rookie quarterbacks do that.
Please note that Siemian's counterpart, Tom Brady, didn't exactly light it up on Sunday. He just didn't make any mistakes. Tom Terrific really was, gasp, a game manager, not making mistakes, as a veteran should.
It's the same old story. Denver doesn't have an offensive line and can't run the ball. Everyone knows that, and sits on the pass. Siemian, who is progressing pretty well in this difficult situation, can only throw short passes and the offense doesn't do much.
The Denver defense didn't produce a turnover, but played very well again. The Broncos held New England to 16 points, including turning away the Pats from touchdowns on three occasions, forcing field goals. If a team holds New England to 16 points, they should win.
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The Broncos are going to need to find some offensive-line help and, perhaps, a running back, if C.J. Anderson isn't ready to go next year — and it would also be nice if Denver could find someone who could catch a punt. (Just saying.)
Denver officially can't win the division — the Raiders lead the Broncos by three games with two to go, and the wild card isn't looking much better. Even with a loss last week, Kansas City (10-4) likely gets the fifth seed, and the Dolphins (9-5) are looking like no. 6 with the Bills and Patriots left on the schedule — New England may have to play for homefield in Week 17, but Miami likely finishes 10-6.
Essentially, the Broncos need to win out at Kansas City, where they have a hard time winning, and beat Oakland (11-3) and need the Dolphins, Ravens and Titans all to face-plant during the final two weeks.
Sorry, folks, but all of the above ain't happening.
Moving aside the Broncos analysis, that was a huge win for the Patriots. New England hadn't won in Denver since 2011 — Tim Tebow was quarterbacking — and was just the franchise's fourth win in Colorado since the NFL-AFL Merger.
Love them or hate them, the Patriots are the best the AFC has to offer.
The Dallas Cowboys are tops in the NFC, but is it really necessary to have them on national television five weeks in a row? Yes, it will be five with Detroit at Dallas on "Monday Night Football."
Five in a row and counting for Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a big one with Baltimore on Christmas Day with the winner taking the AFC North. Says here that will be the Steelers, who appear to be able to matchup with the Patriots in a potential AFC title game.
And as much as I do question the Packers' defense, the end of their game in Chicago this week is why, if you're anyone else in the NFC, you don't want to see Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. The Pack now controls its playoff destiny and should win the NFC North.
One of the reasons Green Bay is in the hunt is that the Giants beat the Lions last week. Put the Giants in trending and Detroit in pretending. The Lions finish with at Dallas and home for Green Bay. The Lions could well make the playoffs as a wild card, despite having lost three straight.
Atlanta is fun to watch, but no defense means a quick playoff exit for the Falcons. The Raiders have a bit more defense than Atlanta, but still are somewhat deficient in holding other teams down. This doesn't take away from the leap the franchise has made in 2016.
And would someone please win the AFC South? Yes, Broncos fans, you may chuckle at the fate of Brock Osweiler.
How bad …
The Jaguars canned Gus Bradley. While I am not a fan of axing coaches, Bradley was given time in Jacksonville.
I am still going to make the case the 49ers (1-13) should get the no. 1 pick in the draft over the Browns (0-14). OK, really, I can't do it. The Browns actually went 0-4 in the preseason, too.
Your trivia for the week is that the 2008 Lions, who went 0-16, actually went 4-0 in the preseason.
On to Week 16 and have a great holiday season.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934.
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