The Broncos try to remain perfect at home and the Jets hope to avoid their longest losing streak in nine years when the teams square off at Invesco Field at Mile High.
While Denver has won seven of eight to take a two-game lead in the AFC West, New York has dropped four straight to fall to the bottom of the AFC East.
“I had a good feeling about this team before the season started,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “We’ve got a lot of veteran leadership, a lot of character and now hopefully we can translate that to wins during the season.”
Shanahan’s squad has won seven straight at home, including 5-0 this season. A victory Sunday will give Denver its longest home winning streak since a franchise-record 24-game run from Sept. 1, 1996-Dec. 27, 1998.
The Jets, meanwhile, have lost eight in a row away from home to record their longest road losing streak since a 12-game slide from 1963-65. They’ve scored a total of 44 points in five road games this season.
New York goes into this contest hoping to avoid its first five-game losing streak overall since 1996, when the team went 1-15.
The Jets have lost 10 players to injured reserve, including quarterback Chad Pennington. The latest is right tackle Jason Fabini, who tore his left pectoral muscle in last week’s 30-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
“For some reason, the dark cloud won’t go away,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said. “Kind of just hovering above us. Usually you get a breeze or something, it blows somewhere else. Needs to go away, I know that, got to go away because it’s amazing to me.”
It might not go away this week, facing a possible MVP candidate in Jake Plummer and a rushing offense which tops the AFC with 165.2 yards per game.
Plummer played another virtually mistake-free game last week, completing 16 of 22 passes for 205 yards with a touchdown in a 31-17 win over the archrival Oakland Raiders.
He has set a team record by not throwing an interception in 193 pass attempts, dating to Sept. 18, and the Broncos have committed a league-low eight turnovers.
Denver’s defense has created 18 turnovers, scoring 62 points off them. At Oakland, rookie Darrent Williams iced the game in the fourth quarter with an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“That’s what we do, we make plays when necessary,” said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. “We got it done, and that’s what matters. There’s nothing we can do except win games.”
The Jets lead the AFC with 22 turnovers, including six last week, their most in a game in nearly five years.
“It’s almost unbelievable, you sit there and say, ‘This is not happening,”’ said New York running back Curtis Martin. “It seems like it didn’t stop.”
The Jets offense has sputtered in three of the last four games with 989 total yards, ahead of only San Francisco during that span.
New York is ranked 30th in the league in total offense and Brooks Bollinger has struggled with a 56.7 passer rating. He had four interceptions and threw for 98 yards last week.
“That’s a young quarterback, he doesn’t have a lot of experience, he’s doing as good as he can do,” Edwards said. “That’s all you can ask of any of these guys. If you have a problem with that, it’s too bad.”
One of the few bright spots for the Jets has been free agent acquisition Ty Law. The veteran cornerback has five interceptions to rank second in the league, and is on the verge of becoming the first Jet since Victor Green in 2000 to get six. Law’s addition has helped the pass defense improve from 19th last season to seventh.
Law’s assignment this week will be to slow down Denver’s Rod Smith, who has scored a touchdown in three of the last four games. His 66th career TD last week moved him past Terrell Davis for the franchise record.