Denver has always been a daunting place to play a football game unless, of course, you’re the home team. But the Broncos don’t look like the championship caliber team they normally are. There have been lots of changes since Peyton Manning retired and although the defense is pretty much intact, the offense is lacking, especially at the quarterback position.
Still, coming into this game the Broncos were 3-1 at home. Tom Brady’s Patriots have been 3-4 in Denver in the regular season, and an abysmal 0-3 in the playoffs, so this game wasn’t a sure thing for the 6-2 Patriots coming off of their bye week. But the Patriots played well in all three phases of the game and completely dominated the Broncos. At the end of the 4th quarter, Tom Brady was taken out and recently acquired Brian Hoyer subbed in. As the Broncos’ fans filed out of Sports Authority Field, chants of “Brady! Brady! Brady!” could be heard in the celebratory voices of the remaining Patriots’ fans.
Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos was a bittersweet victory. Wait…that’s a lie. It was a pretty SWEET VICTORY! I really tried to not enjoy it as much as I did, but I couldn’t help myself. I watched every single minute of it. Let’s be honest, though, it was over by halftime.
The Denver Broncos are my boyfriend’s team and he’s fully aware that the Broncos aren’t playing to their full potential. All week leading up to this rivalry game, all I heard from him was “Eagles haven’t seen a real defense” (okay, guy),“Carson Wentz will finally see a real defense” (eye roll), and my favorite “Your running backs aren’t going to get more than four yards on my defense” (eye roll plus smirk).
When head coach Sean McDermott finally hangs up his whistle at the end of his football career, he should take a job in marketing. McDermott has a slogan for every situation. He has them printed on signs hanging around the locker room. They are sprinkled throughout his speeches to the players and the media. For home games, McDermott came up with the catchphrase, “Defend Our Dirt,“ and went so far as to give each player a little glass jar containing some of the rubber fibers from the playing field at New Era stadium mixed with sand from training camp.
As corny as that may be, the message was received. The Bills are a perfect 4-0 at home following Sunday’s 31-14 win over the Raiders. This is the first time they have been perfect at home since 1995.
Do you know what happens when you cut corners and deny? You get Denver the last two seasons. It’s a year overdue, but it appears Joe Ellis, John Elway, and Vance Joseph saw a mistake was made, took a deep breath and are undergoing triage on it. More importantly, Broncos Country needs to accept it’s going to be a while before the results are seen.
Changing quarterback isn’t an easy thing. For Denver, going with Trevor Siemian was about far more than skill, it involved money and fear and ego. Former Head Coach and current Senior Personnel Advisor Gary Kubiak wanted his hand selected choice, as did QB Coach Greg Knapp. Elway backed his friend. That set the ball in motion which has lead to now.
When Peyton Manning retired, suites went unsold and Sports Authority Field went under. Result? The Broncos losing money. Because PaxtonLynch was basically red shirted. His experience and knowledge are lacking. How could Denver stop the money bleed by going with a QB the media and fans had decided was garbage?
Week 7 was full of surprises, and I still ended up picking 10 games correctly. Week 8 is likely to be a bit more predictable, but if the trend of 2017 being weird continues, we could all be shocked by some of the outcomes. I’m a bit late getting my column written, so for now, I’m posting my picks for the first six games of the week. I’ll update this a bit later with the remaining games. Here’s to Week 8!
Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Thursday Night Football pits the 31st ranked offense and 18th ranked defense of the Ravens against the 32nd ranked offense and 10th ranked defense of the Dolphins. With rankings like those, it’s pretty clear this game will be decided by the defense that plays the most complete game.
24, 42, 16, 16, 10 and 0. That’s the combination to a locker full of questions.
It’s dreary outside and I’m sure it’s pretty dreary inside Dove Valley’s front office. After John Elway saw the writing on the wall last season, he burned down the offensive coaching staff.
He brought in a new Head Coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also hired a special teams and tight end coaches. They brought with them a new scheme that was to be juicy and aggressive and score a lot of points. They brought in a lot of beef to man the offensive line. It was to be a team run from shotgun. We heard that all off season. Shotgun means passing. Hence Rivers being under Center a whole lot more in recent weeks to help their run game.
The 2017 NFL season has been full of surprises. Teams that we all expected to be garbage have pulled off some astounding wins, while teams that we expected to roll over most of their opponents have faltered in losses to much weaker opponents. Pick’em pools have been torn to shreds, and some survivor leagues have already crowned their winner.
Each week, I’ll post my picks and my reasoning behind them, and on Tuesdays, I’ll do a quick rundown on where I went wrong, and what I got right. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my predictions, so feel free to drop a comment on the post, or @ me on Twitter.
It had never been my life endeavor to become a sports writer. I just kind of fell into it. Several years ago I was approached by Liz Panucci, the founder of a site called NFLFemale.com. She asked, ‘Do you want to write about your Raiders?’. The next thing I knew I was the Official Fan Reporter for the Oakland Raiders at NFLFemale.
My love of football began when I was a child. My father coached football at a local high school. Since I was a “Daddy’s’ Girl” I was either with him while he was coaching, or with him and his friends watching USC football or The L.A. Rams.
If you think beating the Giants in Denver is the task, you’d be incorrect. The task is showing that they can play as well in the second half as well as the first. Even if the score is 52-0 at the end of the first half.
Denver is the worst team on third downs in the fourth quarter. How bad? 15% bad. Not only that, the run average and passing completions drop in second halves. Playing with a big lead against the Cowboys may have skewed the numbers a tad, but not that much. Denver has scored once in the 4th and it was a pick six against quarterback Dak Prescott.
Two things are happening. There is a killer mentality missing on offense in the second half of games. When that happens, the defense has to spend more time defending the pass. The offense is dominating the time of possession in first halves. That number drops to only 26 minutes out of a possible 60 in second halves. Split it in half and you have four minutes less than our opponents. Considering all but one turnover has occurred in the second half, you can see why.
Even so, Denver’s defense has done a pretty job. Only four TDs have been allowed in a second half and two were from quarterback Phillip Rivers in week one.
The four interceptions and a fumble lost, all happened in second halves. In their last two games they went from 83% on third downs to 34%. 0 conversions on goal to go.
The 0-5 Giants have a hurt quarterback Eli Manning, are without four starting wide receivers, they have an open gate for an OL and a defense that is ranked in the bottom of the league. They don’t have more than a sliver of a chance of winning. It would take the offense handing them the ball through many mistakes. With New York missing cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and having to use a previously benched cornerback Eli Apple, yeah….it’s probably not going to happen.
There’s only two ways to have a shot of doing it themselves. First, Manning needs to keep chucking the ball (without any turnovers) and hope a DB slips a couple times to get some scores and secondly, they can generate some kind of pass rush, or at least constant pressure. Also, make quarterback Trevor Siemian throw to the sidelines. Take away his comfort zone which are passes beyond ten yards and the sidelines.
The Giants can’t give up. Be prepared for the offense to come out swinging and put up some points. The second half is when they need to know they have a shot and play like it. In addition, the Giants need to use three tight ends and just dump and go and repeat. Use them for pass protection and as slots. Denver isn’t great against tight ends.
The Broncos need to know that Manning isn’t what he once was, but he’s pretty smart with the ball. All the young defensive backs, Justin Simmons, Will Parks, Brandan Langley and BradleyRoby must mentally be on their toes. No one has been able to run against Denver, so Manning will need an air attack, even if that attack is four yards at a time.
Giants defense have allowed 19, 24, 27, 25, and 27 points in their games. They faced Prescott, and quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and Rivers. Two running teams and three passing with good QBs. They didn’t play a mile up, though. While first half Siemian could be mentioned with the above group, second half can’t. Fortunately, the second half is when defenses get gassed in Denver.
The key, easier said than done for the Giants, is to keep within a score and harass Siemian. For Denver, the key is to remember Manning is like Rivers. They hang around in games and wait to find your weakness and then they attack it. Making sure the offense shows up in the fourth is how to keep Manning from having time to mount a comeback.
Talk Broncos with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole