The Broncos will host the Titans in Week 14. Denver has all but locked up its division and is in control of its own destiny when comes to taking over the conference. The Titans, on the other hand, are trying keep their playoff hopes alive. Tennessee is literally in a must-win situation against the best team in the AFC.
The setting is not ideal for the Titans, but they may have shot in a possible trap game. The Broncos have been dominant but have suffered losses to the Patriots and the Colts. The Titans played Indianapolis to a one-point loss in their last game.
Meet the Broncos
The Broncos are the best team in the AFC and are on the verge of clinching the AFC West. They have swept their only competition in the division (Kansas City) and have a winnable schedule moving forward. At 10-2, Peyton Manning and his offense have dominated teams.
Eric Decker, Demaryious Thomas, Knowshon Moreno and Julius Thomas are all having career years this season. On defense, things are just starting to stabilize, and the Broncos are looking like the favorite to win the Super Bowl. They can clinch the division with a win or a Chiefs loss.
Meet the Titans
The Titans have suffered a rash of injuries this season, none of which are bigger than that of starting quarterback Jake Locker. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is having an up-and-down season as Locker's replacement, but the Titans have been able to stay in the playoff hunt to an extent. They lost to the Colts in Week 13, which makes their chances slim, but still they have a shot.
Tennessee is currently 5-7 and clinging to hope. Head coach Mike Munchak has yet to make the playoffs and a third straight failure to make the postseason could punch his ticket out of an organization that he has been with for more than two decades. His time is likely coming to an end with the Titans.
Local Takes: Broncos
Kyle Montgomery of Mile High Report admits to already thinking about the playoffs, but knows the regular season is not over yet:
I'll admit it. I'm guilty of looking ahead.
Looking ahead to January. To the playoffs. Do the Broncos really still have four games left to play? Do we care?
We should. While Denver's top-ranked seed in the AFC is hard-earned and well-deserved, it is precipitous. One loss down the stretch will potentially take their road in the playoffs outside of Denver. So while the remaining opponents (Tennessee, San Diego, Houston, Oakland) have a lowly combined 16-32 record, the Broncos can't afford to overlook a single one of them. Not yet.
Local Takes: Titans
Xanphan of Music City Miracles believes the pass rush has been mediocre this year, which has been tough on the rest of the defense:
Overall I am a little underwhelmed by the Titans pass rush this year. I thought we'd see more out of Brown and Ayers in the sack/pressure department, but aside from Casey, the pressure hasn't been there. I expected a little more from a Gregg Williams defense, but I suppose it is unfair to put that on him alone when he is simply an assistant. While there is certainly a whole lot of talent in this area of the team, I think adding a premier DE through the draft (and letting go of costly Wimbley) might be the thing to push this Titans defense over the edge. Now, if we can just get a lead so they can rush the passer...
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Well, if Munchak says he doesnt have an undisciplined football team it must be true. Cant wait to hop on my unicorn & ride home #firemunchak— Jimmy Morris (@jmorrisMCM) December 2, 2013
The Titans have a decent pass defense, allowing an average of just 212 yards per game. With apologies to Alterraun Verner, the real issue here might be the weather. Temperatures in the teens and a 30 percent chance of snow versus Peyton Manning ... it almost writes itself if the Broncos lose. But they won't lose. John Fox is back on the sidelines this week; never bet against positive emotional footnotes like that.
The pick: Broncos
The Broncos are 13-point home favorites against the Titans, according to Odds Shark.