Just a hunch: Roger Goodell hasn’t watched a lot of Chiefs-Broncos games, in Kansas City, in December.
Come to think of it, there’s a decent chance he hasn’t watched much of the Broncos at all lately.
If he had, he’d know that the league’s recent decision to flex the Broncos-Chiefs game in Week 13 into Sunday Night Football – bumping the previously slated 49ers at Seakhawks to the afternoon slot – is a potentially horrific idea.
Watching the Broncos of late, save for one game against the Dallas Cowboys, is akin to watching paint dry. Unless you enjoy wincing while Vic Fangio’s defense bends while waiting to break or Pat Shurmur’s offense go 1-for-11 on its third down conversions, watching the Broncos is akin to watching paint dry. Furthermore, the Broncos have a long and painful history of being frost bitten when playing at Arrowhead in December.
Even further, furthermore, the Chiefs hold an 11-game winning streak over the Broncos. Not since Peyton Manning whipped up on the Chiefs in 2015, have the Broncos had any luck against the AFC West’s premier team (remember when that used to be Denver?).
The odds of the Broncos winning in KC on Dec. 5?
Slim to none, and you know where slim is heading.
Why then, would the league exercise this flex?
Maybe Goodell is hoping the Broncos that beat the Cowboys will once again surface.
Or maybe this is a prime opportunity to remind the nation that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are not dead after all. That might have been the notion a few weeks back, but it’s looking like things are returning to normal. As in, the Chiefs still have every bit the chance to chase Lombardi as any other team in the NFL.
Call this a playoff teaser for America.
It’s just teasing the Broncos into thinking they’re a team worthy of a national audience.
Yes, the Broncos – mathematically – have a shot. But there’s a better chance that the Chargers will roll the Broncos this week and the Chiefs will embarrass Fangio and crew in two weeks. If you thought losing to the Raiders at home was bad, or that trying to give the Washington Football Team 12 chances to win in 37 seconds was comical, or that getting drubbed by the Eagles in Denver after beating the Cowboys in Dallas was embarrassing, well, buckle up.
Sunday Night Football could be ugly.
Granted, a Sunday night prime time matchup against the Chiefs represents an opportunity to shine. They could win.
But it’s more likely a national reminder of how far the Broncos have fallen off. The NFL clearly doesn’t mind embarrassing the Broncos (with all due respect to Kendall Hinton, the quarterback). And if Patrick Mahomes is set to make a billion bucks over the next decade, it’s reasonable to think the league wants to market one it’s biggest stars. Breaking the Broncos in front of the eyes of the nation is a nice way to do that.
If that happens, the only silver lining for Denver is that perhaps the powers that be realize (if they amazingly haven’t already) that the Broncos are no longer a prime time team. And that embarrassment can no longer take place. And that wholesale changes must take place.
Or, the Broncos could win. Perhaps either outcome is okay.