With a loss to the New Orleans Saints in week 10, Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and snapped an eight-game win streak. And now that the bubbly has stopped flowing at Mercury Morris’ house, the Denver Broncos share the new league lead for consecutive wins with four.
Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Green Bay all enter week 11 with four-game winning streaks in-hand. Of that bunch, only Denver leads their division and only Denver looks primed to extend the streak to five games and beyond. To quote a good friend, Frank the Tank, “We’re going streaking.”
Indianapolis will face their greatest test of the season to-date as they travel to Foxboro to face New England. The Pats have rebounded from a 3-3 start and carry a three-game win streak of their own into the matchup. Including preseason, this marks rookie Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s 13th game – matching the most games he’s played in a season in his career. First-year QBs have been known to hit a wall down the stretch of the NFL season and Luck faces a big wall today with a Patriots defense that leads the AFC in takeaways.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are without two-time Super Bowl champ Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich has been tasked with trying to bring the Steelers into a tie with the Ravens for the AFC North lead. Leftwich was barely able to survive in overtime last week against a miserable Kansas City team and hasn’t won a game as an NFL starter since Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” was on the Billboard charts. After putting up a double-nickel (55 points) on Oakland last week, Baltimore enters this first of two matchups in three weeks against the Steelers with a chance to put some distance between themselves and their chief rival in the division race.
Aside from Denver, Green Bay enters week 11 with the best chance to extend their streak, traveling to Detroit. The Lions have gone the way of fourth-year quarterback Matt Stafford this year, stumbling to a 4-5 record and staring up at everyone else in the standings and on the stat sheet. After a 2-3 start, including a loss to Luck and the Colts, Green Bay has begun to return to form; however, the Packers face a daunting schedule to close out the year, including two matchups with surprising Minnesota and road games against the Giants and Bears.
Denver, meanwhile, is at home after coasting to a 22-point win in Carolina last week. The Broncos have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL right now and a real chance to have the division all but wrapped up when they face Kansas City the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Injuries aside, only Tampa Bay (in Denver) and Baltimore (on the road) appear to present any real challenges for a Broncos team that has been dominant since they turned the corner in the second half in San Diego back in week six.
The Broncos haven’t been perfect – defense against tight ends and fumbles in their own running game have been particular foils all year – but Denver has a real chance to turn this current four-game win streak into ten entering week 17 with a top seed in the AFC on the line.
I’m not donning my green hat quite yet, but it looks like the Broncos are going streaking.