The Broncos are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and on the verge of their first seven-game winning streak since 1998 when the Broncos won their last Super Bowl. It would be just the fourth seven-game winning streak in franchise history. Denver defeated the Chiefs 17-9 in a hard fought victory. The Chiefs – despite having the worst record in the NFL at 1-10 – played the Broncos well for 60 full minutes, even leading the game 6-0 up until the end of the first half when Peyton Manning finally put the Broncos on the board with a touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme. The win was not fully cemented until Brady Quinn threw an interception with time expiring down the field to safety David Bruton.
The Broncos have a chance to clinch the AFC West with either a win or a SD loss to Cincinnati. The only way the Broncos cannot win the division and for the Chargers to win the division is if the Broncos lose all five of their remaining games, while the Chargers win each of their final five remaining games.
The Bucs on the other hand don't have it so simple. They enter this game tied for the final wild card spot in the NFC with the Seahawks and Vikings at a 6-5 record, but lose out on the tiebreaker to the Seahawks due to conference record. However, Tampa Bay is ahead of Minnesota on the tiebreaker procedures due to defeating them earlier this season.
Tampa Bay lost in a tough divisional battle with the Atlanta Falcons 24-23. The Buccaneers led the game 23-17 in the fourth quarter before Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led Atlanta down the field for a game-winning touchdown that was iced by a Michael Turner touchdown run. Tampa Bay has a somewhat tough remaining schedule, as they travel to Denver this week, to New Orleans in two weeks and finally to Atlanta in Week 17. Sandwiched in between those games are home contests versus the likes of the Eagles and the Rams. It is safe to say the Buccaneers cannot afford any losses, as they currently caught in a race with Minnesota and Seattle. The Redskins and Cowboys lurk behind at 5-6.
The story of the matchup between Tampa Bay and Denver will be Peyton Manning and the Buccaneers' pass defense. Manning ranks third in passer rating and touchdowns. The Broncos' passing offense ranks sixth overall in the league. Tampa Bay has an amazing rush defense, as it is the best in the NFL allowing just 81.5 rushing yards per game. However, their pass defense is dreadful. They rank 31st in the league, allowing 315.5 yards per game. To make matters worse, with the trade of their top cornerback Aqib Talib and the suspension of fellow corner Eric Wright due to performance enhancing drugs, E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson will start in their places.
This game will be dictated by how much Tampa Bay's pass defense can slow down Manning. They won't.
Prediction – Denver 38 Tampa Bay 21
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