NFL News - December 22nd, 2009 - Written by John
A week after allowing floundering quarterback JaMarcus Russell drive the length of the field and a score a game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left to go last week, the Denver Broncos appear to be at a loss for words. Gone is the momentum from a 6-0 start. Gone is the fiery spirit that enabled head coach Josh McDaniels to embrace players regularly on camera. And the grand daddy of them all, gone could be a spot in the playoffs if the ship isn't turned around soon.
"We have no margin for error," Broncos defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said following the loss. "The sense of urgency was supposed to be today. And unfortunately it wasn't."
They no longer are the sole leader among the potential wild card teams, and to snap their two-game skid, they get a streaking Philadelphia team with plenty on the line as well. The Eagles are 10-4 with a chance to wrap up the division with a win on Sunday. A loss could potentially put them in a tie with the Dallas Cowboys, setting up a season-finale showdown between the teams next week.
Philadelphia has hit the over in eight of it's last 11 home games and are 7-3 ATS in it's last 10.
But while the Eagles seem destined for at least a wild card berth, Denver is in critical condition, now tied with the Baltimore Ravens and only a game ahead of a pack of several others.
It's defense, which formerly ranked at the top of the league, has now taken a minor dive to third. It still is one of the better units in the league, but concerns are swirling after flopping at a critical point last week.
It's not that the offense did much to help, settling for a field goal late in the game after reaching Oakland's two-yard line with a new set of downs. That made it 19-13, which paved the way for Russell's heroics. On the year, the Broncos have only converted on 11 of 22 goal-to-go series' this year.
That won't work against a Philadelphia team that has scored 23 points or more in six-straight games. Donovan McNabb threw for 308 yards against the San Francisco 49ers last week, and DeSean Jackson had his second-straight game with at least 140 yards receiving.
Jackson is only second player since 2004 to reach 1,000 yards through the air for the Eagles, and also has 11 total touchdowns.
Denver's Brandon Marshall is also putting up Pro Bowl numbers, setting an NFL record with 21 catches two weeks ago, and followed up with seven catches for 73 yards and a score last week.
But the Broncos haven't been able to pull away from anyone in some time, and have failed to cover the spread in six of their last eight games.