Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos had the inside track to the top overall seed and home-field advantage in the AFC, but a pair of losses in the last three games has them locked in a battle for first place in the West. After being held to their lowest point total since Manning joined the team in 2012, the Broncos attempt to bounce back against the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday. All three of Denver's losses have come away from home, including last week's stunning 22-7 setback at St. Louis.
The Dolphins have won four of five to surge into playoff contention, including a 22-9 victory over AFC East rival Buffalo on Nov. 13. Each of the past four victories have come by double digits and the only loss in the recent hot stretch was a last-minute defeat at NFC North co-leader Detroit. “We are up for the challenge," Miami running back Lamar Miller said. "I think we have a great group of guys in this locker room. We know what we have to do to keep this season alive and we just have to take it one game at a time.”
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Broncos -7. O/U: 48
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (6-4): Ryan Tannehill threw for 240 yards and a pair of scores last week, boosting his numbers to nine touchdown passes against two interceptions over the past five games - a span in which he has completed at least 70 percent of his passes four times. Speedy wideout Mike Wallace has been limited to one TD over the past four games after scoring five times in the first six contests, but rookie Jarvis Landry is coming on with 17 catches and two TDs in the past three games. Miller rushed for 86 yards against the Bills and has had nine days to heal an ailing right shoulder. The key to the game, however, could be the ability of a Miami defense that is tied for third with 30 sacks to pressure Manning, who has been taken down only 11 times.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (7-3): Manning had thrown for at least two touchdown passes in 15 consecutive games before that streak was halted by St. Louis, which limited Denver to 28 yards rushing. Although Manning threw for 389 yards and Demaryius Thomas went over 100 yards for the seventh consecutive game, the Broncos suffered a pair of costly injuries when wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (67 catches) sustained a concussion and tight end Julius Thomas (league-high 12 TD receptions) sprained his left ankle. The latter pair did not practice for the second straight day Thursday and running backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman are expected to miss the game, leaving C.J. Anderson to carry the load. Denver had 27 sacks on the season but only four in the past three games.
1. Manning has throwing a scoring pass in 49 straight games, trailing only Drew Brees (54) and Tom Brady (52).
2. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has 8.5 sacks, 6.5 coming in the past six games.
3. Broncos LB Von Miller, a college teammate of Tannehill, has a team-high 10 sacks.
PREDICTION: Broncos 30, Dolphins 20
Need Help Beating Your Sportsbook? Get $60 in Free Premium Member Only picks from Doc's Sports Service, one of the most trusted names in handicapping since 1971! No salesmen and no obligations! Click Here.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- Neckday-to-day | questionable
Flacco has been activated from the PUP list while recuperating from a disc repair surgery in his neck. He is targeting a return Week 3 against the Colts.
- Ankleday-to-day | questionable
Okwuegbunam missed the previous two games due to an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will be ready for Week 3 against the Buccaneers.
- Kneeday-to-day | questionable
Sutton left the previous game due to a knee injury and leg cramping. It has yet to be established if he will face the Buccaneers in Week 3.
- Calfday-to-day | questionable
Walker exited the previous game with a calf injury, and it is undetermined if he will take part in Week 3 versus the Buccaneers.
- Hipday-to-day | questionable
Cleveland was held out of the last game with a hip injury, and it is uncertain if he will suit up against the Buccaneers during Week 3.
- ToeMid Oct | out
Lindsay is sidelined due to turf toe, and team officials expect him to remain out of the lineup for at least two to four weeks.
- ShoulderOut indefinitely | I-R
Bouye has hit the injured reserve list with a dislocated right shoulder, and he is without a definitive timetable for recovery.
- Hamstringday-to-day | questionable
Barron has sat out the past two games with a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will line up against the Buccaneers in Week 3.
- PectoralQues Thurs | questionable
Fejedelem has missed the past two games due to a pectoral injury, and it is unclear if he will be ready for Thursday against the Jaguars.
- SuspensionElig Week 8 | out
Callaway has been handed a fourteen-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He will be eligible to return Week 8 against the Rams.
- ConcussionQues Thurs | questionable
Roberts missed the last game due to a concussion, and it remains to be seen if he will be cleared in time for Thursday's contest versus the Jaguars.
- GroinQues Thurs | questionable
Jones left the previous game due to a groin injury and did not return. It is undetermined if he will be active Thursday against the Jaguars.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Howard is dealing with a knee injury, but he is likely to line up Sunday against the Bills.
- HamstringQues Sun | questionable
Howard left the previous game due to a hamstring injury, and it is unknown if he will play against the Bills on Sunday.
- CalfProb Sun | probable
Grant Sr. has a calf injury, but he is likely to suit up against the Bills on Sunday.
- AchillesProb Sun | probable
Jones is nursing an Achilles injury, but he is likely to be in Sunday's lineup versus the Bills.