Chargers surprise the Broncos; questions for Sunday's NFL games

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

Have the Chargers figured out the way to stop the Broncos and their seemingly unstoppable offense? Let’s take a quick timeout and realize two things: 1. Teams aren’t going to be that successful against the Broncos on a regular basis. 2. San Diego is clearly just a bad match up for the Broncos. It’s frustrating to watch the Chargers do so well on the road against a Super Bowl contender after they’ve had such sloppy losses against teams like the Bengals, Redskins or Dolphins. Or at least we consider Denver to be a serious contended for the title come February. Are the cold weather questions back for Peyton Manning? It was evident that Manning was focused on making “easy passes” for most of the night, never really going past 15 or 20 yards down field. Was lack of rest a factor for the Broncos? Remember, no Wes Welker last night and the Chargers defensive backs did a nice job of limiting most of the Denver attack. It didn’t appear that way to start the game after Manning led the Broncos to a relatively easy drive for a quick TD. San Diego didn’t respond until the second quarter but once the response came, it was all downhill for the Chargers. Philip Rivers led the offense with a couple of TD passes to Keenan Allen (pictured above) while the Chargers offense controlled the clock for the entire game. San Diego had the ball for nearly twice the time that Denver did, keeping the Broncos offense on the sidelines, watching as the Chargers continued long drive after long drive. The Chargers looked and performed like a team who’s season was on the line. Now they turn to this Sunday’s games where they try to get some help from the Patriots and the Lions, hoping to tie the Ravens and Dolphins for that final spot in the AFC side of the playoffs. For Denver the road gets a little tougher in trying to nab the top seed in the conference because if the Patriots win out, they own the tie breaker over Denver. Easier said than done for a Patriots team dealing with so many injuries but either way it makes the AFC race that much more interesting.

One would think that because of what’s happening to Denver and New England that the Bengals have a shot for the top spot. It’s a stretch, considering that all three teams have favorable games to end the season but it the Patriots were to slip this weekend, it would make things exciting to watch. Unfortunately all of the early games that aren’t Patriots-Dolphins won’t have many implications where both teams have playoff stakes on the line. Here’s the underlining secret though, most of the favorites will be on the road for Sunday’s games. What does that mean? I think, for the most part, that games thought to be lopsided will be closer than usual. As we’ve seen in the past, at this point of the season a lot of teams that aren’t really playing for anything come out with nothing to lose. Just go play football. It’s a cliche but it does hold some value, even if it’s only for a neutral fan like myself, hoping for closer and more entertaining games. Will Cutler’s return affect a Bears offense that looked great on Monday night? Can the Seahawks look dominant on the road against the Giants? Can the Colts FINALLY get off to a good start against a really bad Texans team? Will the Eagles and 49ers take care of business on the road against an inferior opponent? And really, the same goes for the Chiefs, Panthers, Cardinals and Saints who are all facing less-than-great teams. Will my Cowboys take advantage of what looks like a Rodgers-less Packers team? If the Cowboys defense has any hope of bouncing back after an abysmal performance, it’s against the Packers when Rodgers isn’t there. The latest reports indicate that #12 will not be behind center for Sunday’s game.

It seems a bit easy to do so but I don’t care, i’m taking advantage of a depleted Patriots team on the road against the Dolphins (+2.5) this week for upset pick. The Dolphins are fighting for the second wild card spot while the Patriots are fighting to stay off the IR list. Can Brady still continue to lead the Patriots despite all of that? There’s no doubt but for all signs point to the Dolphins here. Teams usually have a tough time playing in Miami to begin with so i’m just taking the nice odds here. The Dolphins keep it very close and quite possibly win the game.