Jussel: A state of confusion

Broncos still have shot to be AFC's top seed, despite recent setback

The First Edition and a young Kenny Rogers were bit discombobulated way back in 1968:

… I tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high

I tore my mind on a jagged sky

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.

Things weren’t much better according to The Kinks in 1983:

… Don’t know why I feel so bad.

Is it the weather, or am I going mad?

Don’t know whether I’m coming or I’m going …

It’s a state of confusion.

We’re in a state of confusion.

Which brings us to the National Football League of 2013.

I give you Week 15 in the AFC:

■ The top-seeded team, the Denver Broncos, were unable to stop or go against the San Diego Chargers in a 27-20 defeat, in Denver no less.

■ The second-seeded New England Patriots, who could have moved into the driver’s seat and gained the top seed with a win, went down in flames to the Miami Dolphins 24-20. The Patriots, who have become famous for pulling out wins in the final seconds, faltered on four straight plays that would have won it, then whined about poor officiating all the way home.

■ The third-seeded Cincinnati Bengals could have moved as high as second seed and been in great position to climb to No. 1 because they hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots — if they could just beat the sub-.500 Pittsburgh Steelers. They could not, falling behind 27-3 at one point before losing 30-20.

I now present to you Week 15 in the NFC:

The top-seeded Seattle Seahawks, who lost the previous week to the San Francisco 49ers, held serve by doing what everyone else does, beating the New York Giants 23-0.

■ From there, however, the second-seeded New Orleans Saints were hammered in St. Louis by the Rams 27-16.

■ The third-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, who had romped to five straight wins, went to Minnesota to play the hapless Vikings. The Eagles, of course, were blasted 48-30 by a team that did not have its star running back, Adrian Peterson. Matt Cassel, who couldn’t play in New England or Kansas City, threw for 386 yards and two TDs.

■ The Dallas Cowboys, who could have climbed into a tie at the top with the Eagles in the NFC East and into the playoff seeding picture with a win over the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers, pulled boneheaded stunt after boneheaded stunt, giving up a 26-3 halftime lead. Matt Flynn, recently deemed worthless by the Seahawks, Raiders (really?) and Bills, threw four TD passes in the second half to lead the Pack to a 37-36 win.

There you have it, the State of Confusion in the Nerve-racking Football League. Two weeks remain and, obviously, anything and virtually everything is possible.

Somehow, someway, despite a no-show against the Chargers, the Broncos are still hanging onto that top slot, the bye week and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Their tasks would appear to be minimal, albeit on the road, when they take on 2-12 Houston and 4-10 Oakland. Still, after what we just witnessed, it is obvious the Broncos need to get geared up and need to pay attention.

San Diego frustrated the Broncos by controlling the ball for nearly 40 minutes, keeping Peyton Manning & Co. very much seated and frustrated. Philip Rivers was accurate for the Chargers throughout, and Ryan Mathews ran for 127 yards.

That was the Chargers, not the upcoming Texans or Raiders.

The Texans now have Wade Phillips on the sideline replacing Gary Kubiak, and they have Case Keenum at quarterback. Keenum, a second-year man who is seeing his first action this season, is not Rivers.

And the Raiders have a similar situation with Matt McGloin, a rookie, now their starter at quarterback.

Those two young QBs are just what Denver’s struggling defense needs these next two weeks, and they are just what the doctor ordered for the Broncos to retain the top spot in the AFC.

Two wins will go a long way toward clarifying a very confusing condition.

Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor (think Dark Ages) and Gran Junction High School journalism teacher who belongs in the Armchair Quarterback Hall of Fame, if only there was one.


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