The Denver Broncos were supposed to be the runaway winners of the AFC West and, quite possibly, the entire AFC for a second straight season. While the team has been good, things have not materialized the way it hoped, and the Broncos now face a tough Miami Dolphins team in a pivotal matchup.
Denver, 7-3, is atop the West, just a half-game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs after suffering a shocking 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams last week. For the Broncos, it was the first time in the regular season that they were held to single-digits since Peyton Manning arrived in 2012. The offense sputtered throughout thanks to Manning's two interceptions, lousy protection and only nine designed runs for 29 yards.
It could be another tough day for Denver's offense against Miami, a defense that is second in yards allowed per game at 302.5. Cameron Wake will be a tough test for the league's most penalized offensive line, already with 8.5 sacks in 2014. Miami is also tied for first in yards allowed per pass at 6.1 and checks in third-best with 30 sacks. With Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) and Julius Thomas (ankle) questionable to play, Manning might need help from his backs and defense.
For the Dolphins, this game looms as a huge opportunity to move closer to a playoff spot. Miami has not made the postseason since 2008 but has a soft schedule after playing Denver, including two meetings with the Jets and a home game against the Vikings. The Dolphins also play the Ravens at home and have a road game at the Patriots.
Ryan Tannehill has been playing excellent football over the past five games, throwing 10 touchdowns and two interceptions with a completion percentage of 70 or higher in four of those. Tannehill enjoys one of the best deep threats in the NFL in Mike Wallace, a burner who can get behind the safeties. Wallace is the leading Miami receiver, hauling in 44 passes for 557 yards and six touchdowns.
How to Watch
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
When: 4:25 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
For more on the Dolphins, head over to The Phinsider.
To keep up on the Broncos, check out Mile High Report.