Every other team in the AFC West lost, giving Denver an opportunity to re-establish its status as a contender in the division and the Broncos did so with a 34-20 win over Jacksonville on Monday night. Chicago also had a chance to jump back into the race, albeit for a wild card, but failed to take advantage of the opening provided when the Lions and Redskins lost. The Bearswent down 30-23 at Seattle.
Despite being outscored this season 258-187, Denver has mastered the art of winning close games, going 3-1 in contests decided on the final play. Those wins have allowed them to stay alive in the AFC West, and they are suddenly tied for first place following two straight victories. In order to maintain their perch atop the division, they must go on the road and beat the Bears. Chicago, meanwhile, must get a win to stay alive in the race for the NFC wild card.
Bears left tackle John Tait vs. Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil. The Bears have done an average job protecting their quarterbacks, allowing 24 sacks so far this season. Tait is one of the leaders on the veteran offensive line and has the vital task of protecting Rex Grossman's blind side. Given Grossman's tendency to fumble -- he lost one last Sunday and lost five of his eight fumbles last season -- Tait has to help his quarterback out by keeping the opposition from having the chance to swipe at the ball from behind. The man best equipped to force such turnovers for Denver is Dumervil. He ranks third in the AFC with eight sacks and has caused three fumbles, recovering one. If he can beat Tait and get to Grossman, the Broncos' chances of winning figure to increase greatly.
Did you know?
Grossman has never lost in his career when he posts a quarterback rating of 100 or more, going 7-0 in such contests.