By Marc Mandell

Well guys, the remaining four games for our Denver Broncos are very important aren’t they. As the final quarter of the 2016 season comes into view, with games against the Titans, New England, KC, and Oakland, Denver needs to finish strong. But do they need to win all four? I wasn’t so sure until we watched the outcome of the OAK/KC game Thursday night. At this point if they win 3 out 4, they’ll have a good chance of getting in the playoffs. For now, let’s just focus on the former team Denver will face this week, the Tennessee Titans.

With a trip to Graceland this weekend to face off with Tennessee, Denver is in some tricky waters. They can use this game to get a leg up in the standings, but will they? I have my doubts. That was based on the notion that it would be Lynch suiting up, now it looks like Siemian could get back in the saddle. No matter who runs the show, the Titans can’t be overlooked.

The strongest asset for the Titans? It’s undoubtedly the running game. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a killer combo this season. Murray is averaging 4.6 yards a carry, and to give that some perspective, the best running game in the league, Ezekiel Elliot, is at 4.8. League average is usually around 4.2. Couple that with the leaky Denver run defense, and that will be the most difficult facet of the game for the Broncos.

As I said, the Titans are not to be taken lightly. I know what you guys are thinking, “It’s the Titans man! They’re never that good.” To a point, you’re right. They haven’t been the capital of the league, or even their division for that matter, in a long time, but this year they are playing very physical football, and are doing some things particularly well. The run game is one and the passing is another. Like I said, Murray is having a resurgent year. After the debacle that was the Eagles season last year, it seems like 29 is picking up where he left off when he departed Dallas. Not a bad stat line at 1,043 yards on 229 attempts and 8 TD’s. His offensive line is giving him lanes, as well as providing good blocking at the second level. Even his co-hort Derrick Henry is getting 4.5 yards a carry! It all comes from a strong O-Line, and developed passing game. One word here fellas, physical. These guys are dangerous.

Now on to the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota. Marcus hasn’t thrown a pick in the red zone yet. In his career as a pro he hasn’t made a mistake in the red zone. Mariota is turning out to be the real deal. With 25 touchdowns and only 8 picks this year, he is having his break out year. It is said that players tend to make their biggest jump in year two. He has. Mariota is using multiple weapons every week, and isn’t afraid to let his receivers make a play on the ball. His timing and decision making have improved since last year, not to mention his escapability. He can run with the best of ’em. His accuracy and leadership are what made him such an attractive draft prospect, and with the development of his game, he is becoming a much bigger package. With a stout O-line, and a very good running game, Mr. Mariota and company have good reasons to be in the position they’re in, one game from leading the AFC South.

How about their defense? Well, this is why they lost both games to the Colts, and the Chargers. On one down, they will smother receivers, get to the passer and generally shut down the opposing offense. However, on the very next play they will break down completely, allowing receivers and tight ends to run free and get wide open. It’s not that they’re bad necessarily, just inconsistent. The Titans defense isn’t as choice as the Jags team last week, as hard as that is to believe. They do have a familiar face at linebacker though. How many of you remember Wesley Woodyard? I certainly do, and I seem to recall a hard hitting cement truck with a nose for finding himself in the middle of a ton of plays. I have no doubt he will be bringing the noise come Sunday afternoon.

So here we are. We have an idea of what the Titans will administer this weekend, but what about the Broncos? What about Lynch? Will Siemian get the start? The Broncos are kind of playing this one close to the chest this week. According to NBC Sports, Denver won’t be making this decision until Sat. Let’s play this out for a sec. Say, Lynch gets the nod. He was rated as the worst, the worst offensive PLAYER last week. Not the worst QB, the worst player. Ouch. So things can only go up from here right? God I hope so. The Jaguars had a better secondary than the Titans do, which should allow more openings in the passing game. The question is, can he make the throws? Just because they are there, doesn’t mean anything. The passing game will have to be on point this week guys. I say to hell with the run game, lets just air it out. Can Lynch succeed?

Well, the other side is Siemian, who had his best day 2 weeks ago against KC. Trevor can make the throws, progress through the reads, and beat a defense with his arm. His draw back is his foot issue. Can he drive on the ball? Is he really that much better than Lynch at this point?

Personally for me, as hard as it is to say, I think Denver should start….Lynch. Hold on, hold on. Hear me out. Start Lynch, if only to let Siemian get healthy for next week against New England. I understand that Denver needs the win in Tennessee, and with meetings against KC and OAK, the Broncos have their chance. The defense of Denver can step up. They will step up. I’m keeping the faith ya’ll!!

In other news, Denver did sign one of Kubiak’s old pals Justin Forsett. He was with Kubs in Baltimore and in Houston, though most of us forget about the Houston bit. With Kapri Bibbs headed to IR, it will be Booker and Forsett this week. I don’t think any Broncos fan will complain about a little added experience in the back field right? Certainly not from this fan. I think it is a good addition and I’m excited to see what he can do with Denver.

Denver needs to win this game. As insane as it sounds, Denver can afford a loss to the Patriots. The Broncos need to beat Tennessee, Kansas City and Oakland to make it. Whether they get help from other teams or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they control what they can control. With back-to-back road games, and third start from Lynch, I’ve got a score of DEN 24 – 27 TEN. I said they need the win, not that they will get it.