Rate Your Hate: The AFC East

In the second of Thin Air’s Rate Your Hate series, we consider the teams of the AFC East.

Which AFC East team do you hate the most?

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I fully expect the results of this AFC East poll to be a noncompetitive bloodbath overwhelming “favoring” one team–much like the actual competition level in this division in the 21st century. Nonetheless, we must march on.

Buffalo Bills

You may not expect this given the Bills’ recent history of holding the longest playoff drought, but the Broncos actually have a losing record against Buffalo, at 16-20-1.  Post-merger, the Broncos can get back on top, but not by much, at only 11-9.

The Bills may not seem that hateable today, but they have been a thorn in the side of the Broncos on several occasions. During the Jim Kelly era, the Broncos went 2-5 against the Bills, including a brutal 10-7 loss in the 1991 AFC Championship Game.  Then there’s 2008: the Bills inflicted an inexcusable 30-23 home loss in Week 16 that was part of what ultimately cost the Broncos a weak AFC West and cost Mike Shanahan his “job for life”. History almost repeated itself in 2011 with yet another Week 16 loss–this one a 40-14 blowout–but this time the divine intervention of Tim Tebow tiebreakers of the weak AFC West favored the Broncos.

The Broncos travel to Buffalo in 2017, and thankfully it will be in the comfortably warm time of Week 3.

Miami Dolphins

This is another team that the Broncos have historically struggled with, with an all time record of 6-11-1.  This is a bit more well known than historical struggles against Buffalo, and it’s mainly due to the Broncos’ great difficulties with winning in the state of Florida. The Dolphins are the largest contributor to those difficulties, as the Broncos are only 1-7 in Miami–with the only win coming from the divine intervention of Tim Tebow a late game defensive meltdown by the Dolphins in 2011.

It should also be noted that despite being two of the best quarterbacks of their era from the same quarterback loaded draft, John Elway and Dan Marino only faced each other three times in their careers.  Marino won both regular season contests, including a Week 16 Monday night contest in 1998 that was hyped up beyond recognition as Elway vs. Marino & the 1998 Broncos vs. the 1972 Dolphins for the perfect season…until the Giants ruined that hype the week before. The Broncos, however, got the last laugh in the playoffs with a 38-3 domination in Denver.

The Broncos travel to Miami in 2017, and thankfully it will be in the comfortably warm time of Week 13.

New England Patriots

I don’t think I have to explain why Bill Belichick and Tom Brady instill so much hate into this franchise leaguewide.  But there are a pair of teams that can have lesser reason to hate the Patriots because they can regularly beat them.  One of them are the Giants, and the other is the Broncos.  Denver has battled New England to a 9-9 draw in the Belichick era, and 9-7 in favor of the Broncos when Brady is the quarterback.  More importantly, no team has ended the Patriots’ regular quests for Super Bowls more often than the Broncos.  They delivered Brady his first career playoff loss in 2005, as well as a pair of AFC Championship losses in 2013 and 2015.

And before Belichick’s arrival in Foxboro, the Patriots were hardly the Evil Empire than they are today.  The Broncos racked up a 21-13 record over the Patriots.  In particular, John Elway was flawless against the Patriots with a perfect 11-0 record while he was quarterbacking in Denver.  The 1996 game was memorable in particular.

All time, the Broncos hold a 30-22 edge over the Patriots, and will face off yet again in Denver on a Sunday night game in Week 10.

New York Jets

The Broncos and Jets have largely traded wins and losses with regularity, with long streaks rare between the two sides.  One thing the Broncos can hang their hats on is that they hold a 6-3 record against the greatest times for the Jets, the Joe Namath era.  This includes five straight wins in a row, and the Broncos were the only team to defeat the Jets in New York during their Super Bowl season of 1968–inflicting 5 interceptions on Namath in the process.

The Broncos also hold an AFC Championship Game win over the Jets in 1998–a game that the Bill Parcells led Jets kept close in the first half, but one in which the Broncos brutally corrected in the 3rd quarter.

Currently, the Broncos hold a 19-15-1 record over the Jets, and it includes winning four of the last five. (My personal favorite was the 27-0 shutout in 2005, a game in which the Jets, having already lost their top two quarterbacks in Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler for the season, also got numbers 3 and 4 in Brooks Bollinger and Vinny Testaverde knocked out of the game by the Broncos.  Fifth in line was Kliff Kingsbury, who participated in the Broncos’ training camp that year.)

The Broncos and Jets will meet in Week 14 of the 2017 season in Denver.