Had the bold plans of the
But the 62-yard field-goal attempt by Brandon McManus drifted wide left with 1 minute 8 seconds remaining in overtime Sunday night, giving the
On Monday, Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak defended the decision to try the super-long kick — one yard shy of the league record — instead of going for it on fourth and 10 or punting and essentially playing for a tie. That kick was five yards longer than McManus' career best.
"We need to win our divisional football games and we had a chance to do it with something that our kicker has done before," Kubiak told reporters. "[McManus] did it before the game. I know it's tough. I know it's a tough kick, but it's something he's done. It's me showing confidence in him and confidence in our defense if it doesn't happen. I believe in our football team. We're going out there to battle our tails off and try to win a football game."
Both teams were well aware of what the runaway
Regardless, the AFC West, once so lopsided with the Broncos winning five consecutive division titles, is now possibly the best division in the NFL, although a compelling argument can also be made for the resurgent
The Raiders have a difficult stretch run, facing all three division opponents on the road as well as home games against the
The Chiefs are a game back at 8-3, and finish with bookend road games sandwiched around a three-game home stretch. They play at Atlanta, then home against the Raiders,
The 7-4 Broncos, defending Super Bowl champions, have an uphill climb, with road games at Jacksonville and Tennessee the next two weeks before facing the
Even though San Diego is far off the pace at 5-6, the Chargers are always dangerous with
As Kubiak said Monday, "There's a lot of football left to play."
All four NFC West teams lost Sunday, with the Rams and
That said, the outlook remains good for the Seahawks, who at 7-3-1 have a three-game advantage over the second-place Cardinals, the biggest lead by any division-leading team.
Records-wise, the Seahawks have the easiest finish of any team in the league, with games against the Panthers, Green Bay Packers and division opponents the Rams, Arizona and San Francisco, teams that were a combined 17-36-1 heading into Monday night's game between the Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Through Sunday, none of those teams had won more than four games.
Marcus the marksman
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. Only one quarterback in NFL history had a longer such streak in his first two seasons:
The Titans have a week off before playing host to Denver, which boasts the NFL's No. 1 pass defense.