Today’s afternoon NFL Sunday Football top match up has the potential to further the case for Peyton Manning at the league’s MVP. The 8-3 Denver Broncos are seeking their seventh straight win against the visiting 6-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers that are fighting for a playoff spot.
A win for the Broncos, or loss by the San Diego Chargers, will also clinch the AFC West title for a team whose season was questionable with newly signed Manning coming off the serious neck injury. After a slow start, Manning has continued to lead his team to victory including 285 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. He did so without starting running back Willis McGahee who is gone for the reason after sustaining a knee injury.
Stepping in for McGahee is Knowshon Moreno who racked up 85 yards off 20 carries last week. Moreno will be the starter from here on out and expected to carry the load, something he has not done in over a year.
The Bucs suffered a tough 24-23 loss last week to the Atlanta Falcons and slipped further down in the wild card standings as a result. They haven’t been in the playoffs since 2007, and a loss today against the Broncos coupled with either a Seattle or Minnesota win – both teams are leading right now in the second half of their games – will leave the Bucs looking at the playoffs from the outside.
The key for the Bucs will be their defense as Josh Freeman was effective against the Falcons with 256 yards passing and Doug Martin ran in a pair of touchdowns. The defense, however, coughed up over 350 yards passing to Matt Ryan and ultimately a late lead to allow the Falcons a come from behind win.
Today’s most playoff impacting Sunday afternoon NFL Football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos kicks off at 4:05pm EST / 1:05pm PST in high definition on Fox free over the air or via a cable/satellite subscription. An alternative, though not free option is to watch the official online live streaming version via NFL Sunday Ticket here. My prediction is the Bucs put pressure on Manning and make up for their loss to the Falcons last week with a close 23-20 win at Denver.