Broncos season comes down to final game |

Broncos season comes down to final game

John Vandelinder

The AFC West showdown in San Diego on Sunday night between the Broncos and the Chargers marks the first time in 20 years an NFL division crown will be decided on the same field in the last weekend of the season.

If Denver (8-7) loses – they are heavy underdogs – it will mark the second time in NFL history that a team blew a three-game division lead.

If San Diego (7-8) wins, it will be only the second time an 8-8 team won a division title, and it would be the first time in history that a team started 4-8 and advanced to the playoffs.

Having a division title and subsequent playoff berth being decided on the regular season’s final weekend is what football fans dream about.

What better reason to watch and see what happens?

Two lifelong football men from Craig gave their opinion of Sunday’s pivotal matchup between the Chargers and Broncos.

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One is an official, the other a coach.

Both share a love for the men in orange and blue, but as far as predictions go, the similarities end there.

Coach’s outlook

Gary Tague is the head football coach at Craig Middle School and is the public address announcer for Moffat County High School football.

Tague’s prediction: The Chargers will win by 21.

“They’re a real good football team,” Tague said about San Diego, “and they’re just starting to find themselves. The Broncos, basically, aren’t that good. I don’t know how else to put it mildly.”

Tague said he doesn’t think the rotating running back carousel in Denver has anything to do with it. He thinks it’s about defense.

“I think San Diego has too many weapons on offense that Denver, defensively, won’t be able to match up with,” he said.

Having a playoff berth and division title decided in the final regular season game of the year is exciting, Tague said, but he also wishes it were a little different.

“It would be more exciting if we were playing Detroit (0-15),” he said. “I’m a big Broncos fan. But, as a coach, I’m a realist, too. San Diego just has a lot more talent, and they are playing with a lot more confidence now. The Broncos just spitter and sputter. I just don’t see them doing much.”

Official’s outlook

Steve Hafey is the play-by-play voice of the MCHS Bulldogs, and he officiates football game across the state. Hafey also coaches Doak Walker football.

Hafey’s prediction: Broncos 28, Chargers 21

“That’s a game that nobody can guess,” Hafey said. “San Diego has been playing better, and we’ve been playing worse. We can score with anybody, but on the other hand, we can’t stop anybody from scoring.”

Hafey said he thinks if San Diego plays a stout defense, they could win, but if Denver puts up a lot of points, the division crown and subsequent playoff berth should go to the men from the mile high city.

“The Broncos’ offense is going to have to step up for all four quarters, not just the first, like last week,” he said. “Too many times, they’ve squandered opportunities this year.”

But when you bleed orange and blue – like Hafey – it becomes a more simple decision.

“I can’t go against the Broncos,” Hafey said. “Everybody that’s able to get well is going to, so they will have the most complete team they have had in a long time.”

As for having all the cards on the table in one final game?

“San Diego can make history coming back from three games down with three games to go,” Hafey said, “and the Broncos could make history by being the first team to give it up with three games to go. It’s definitely going to be intriguing to watch.

“But I’m taking the Broncos.”

Game time:

Catch the action at 6:15 p.m. on NBC.

AFC West standings

National Football League

Team Wins Losses

Denver 8 7

San Diego 7 8

Oakland 4 11

Kansas City 2 13

Sunday games:

Kansas City at Cincinnati

Oakland at Tampa Bay

Denver at San Diego