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The most underrated team in the NFL

Tom Boyd

Nobody on the East Coast or California pays attention to the Denver Broncos.And that’s a good thing.Because right now, no one seems to notice that the Broncos have trounced, absolutely trounced, two of the “best” teams in the AFC (K.C. and the Colts), and we barely lost to New England when we had a third-string QB, fresh linebackers and a decimated O-line.And if Clinton Portis had played as many minutes as Jamal Lewis, we’d be talking about how Portis is about to break the 2,000-yard barrier.But once again, that’s a good thing.Because the Broncos are going to sneak up on some people in the playoffs.But what about Green Bay?Brett Favre lost his father only a day before a terrific performance. And he’s that kind of competitor. I think he’s feeling free of some of the burdens his father always laid upon him, and I think he’s a competitor. The guy is emotional right now. He’s on the verge of another playoff berth. He would like nothing better than to concentrate on football through this difficult time.So he’s dangerous.But so is Lenny Walls. So is the Broncos’ I-have-to-admit-it’s-getting-better-all-the-time secondary. So is our second-string linebacker corp, which is comprised of guys who were overlooked because of injury and now are replacing guys who are injured.And because of Jake Plummer this team is getting tight.Kick the tires and light the fires, we’re going to rock it all the way to Houston stealth style. As for Green Bay? It’s all about defense: Broncos 21-17.Buffalo at New England: Buffalo simply doesn’t have the guns to outdo the AFC’s best team. On the other hand, New England would be unwise to break out the ultra-creative playbook in a game that doesn’t matter. Three yards, a cloud of dust, and New England on top in this one: Patriots 24-17.Seattle at San Francisco: The Sea Dogs are in a must-win situation, but they’ll need some help with a Minnesota loss. San Francisco lost Terrell Owens, so Seattle looks good for a close win: Seahawks 35-30.Philadelphia at Washington: Philadelphia was on the cusp of beating San Fran last week and they could struggle through the end-of-the-year-we’ve-already-clinched-a-playoff-berth blues: Eagles 21-20.Chicago at Kansas City: The Chiefs have been making fools of themselves lately. Good thing this isn’t college football and the BCS has nothing to do with this program. Can Da Bears be the next to surprise the boys in Red? No way. Not in Camerohead Stadium: Kansas City 21-17.Cleveland at Cincinnati: Cleveland would love to spoil their home-state rival’s run at the playoffs, but the ex-Bungles can run the ball on Cleveland’s weak run D. Bengals 26-24.Dallas at New Orleans: The Boys have clinched. New Orleans has something to prove after last week’s one-point loss: Saints 23-20.Indianapolis at Houston: There’s no doubt the Broncos left their sting in Indianapolis’ hide. The Colts will kick back to life in Houston, if only to win the division title and gain another shot at Denver at home: Indianapolis 27-10.Jacksonville at Atlanta: The Falcons are having fun playing football in a fresh new setting without stingy ol’ Dan Reeves. Go Michael Vick: Atlanta 28-17.N.Y. Jets at Miami: With Brian Griese on their team the Dolphins managed to come oh-so-close to a playoff berth. What is it about this guy? Still, Junior Seau knows how to lead a team into the final game of the season with heart: Miami 16-9.St. Louis at Detroit: Ooops, forgot Detroit had a team. I thought they just showed up to play on Thanksgiving: St. Louis 27-10.Tampa Bay at Tennessee: Tampa Bay has proven that its leaders are sore losers. Maybe the rest of its team can show some depth against Tennessee, but since the Titans have a division championship on the line, they’ll probably come through as they did in Week 16: Tennessee 21-16.Carolina at N.Y. Giants: Jim Fassel is gone and Carolina has already made the playoffs. But the Panthers need to prove they can play the game again after losing five of their last six: Carolina 20-19.Minnesota at Arizona: Minnesota needs to practice their air game before the playoffs, so why not do it in sunny Phoenix? Minnesota 184-3.Oakland at San Diego: The plain truth is that neither of these two teams has a good secondary, but Oakland’s is at least passable. And Drew Brees’ passes are hardly impeccable, making interceptions certainly critical. Ladanian Tomlinson can have some fun, so a San Diego victory is hardly impossible. If anybody cared about this game, a perfect diagnosis would be more probable. But since we don’t, I’ll say a Raider victory seems more doable. Raiders 26-25.Pittsburgh at Baltimore: Baltimore has everything on the line, and they play well at home. Need I say more? Yes. Jamal Lewis is going for the all-time rushing record against Pittsburgh in a huge Sunday night football game. Let’s hope he doesn’t pass Terrell Davis, who had a 2,008-yard season a few years back. Baltimore 27-14.


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