It is time to play for real. All the offseason evaluating, planning, drafting and practicing is over. The time has come to see where the Denver Broncos are. It’s time to begin the great adventure that is the 2010 NFL season.
In general, I find it hard to get a read on this team, which seems to be a common thought. It also seems to me that there are some common thoughts that the Broncos will be, at best, mediocre, that winning the AFC West is completely out of reach, and that the playoffs are but a pipe dream.
Admittedly, these are my totally unscientific perceptions of what seems to be pervading opinions I hear on at least a semi-regular basis. Perhaps I am hearing (and thus, perceiving) the wrong things, but I don’t think I am.
And that is fine. The great part about this time of year is we can all believe whatever we want to believe. The better part about this time of year is we’re about to start the process of finding out who is right.
I really have no idea how well the Broncos will do this year. But I do have a few observations as we head into the 2010 season.
1 – THE BRONCOS WILL IMPROVE AS THE SEASON GOES ALONG. I have to put in the qualifier that this will happen as long as the team stays relatively healthy. If they lose key players, all bets are off. Certainly that is true for any team.
The Broncos are already starting from a place of being banged up. I have to believe that over time, many of the injured players will return and play well. I’m thinking about guys like Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Correll Buckhalter, Knowshon Moreno and Demaryius Thomas.
In addition, while one never knows how the season will play out, I see the beginning of the schedule as being tougher than the end of the schedule. Three straight December road games will be a rough stretch, to be sure. But looking at things now, I’m not sure they’ll be playing elite teams in that stretch (at KC, Arizona and Oakland). They’ll be tough games but still games that they can win.
2 – THE AFC WEST IS UP FOR GRABS. I believe the Chargers are the best team as the season begins but I don’t think they’ll be as good as they have been in recent years. The safe bet is to pick San Diego to win the division. If I had to bet my life on it, I’d pick the Chargers.
But there is something that tells me to hold on just a minute. The Broncos will be better. The Raiders will be better. The Chiefs will be better. The whole division will be better. While I lean towards taking the Chargers right now, it would not surprise me in the least if any of the other three teams won the division.
The rivalries are heated to begin with. The teams other than the Chargers have seemingly made moves to improve. The road trips in the division are, to say the least, difficult.
The bottom line: The Broncos can make a run at the division title.
3 – THE BRONCOS HAVE TO RE-ESTABLISH HOME FIELD DOMINANCE. I believe they will. In 2009, the Broncos were 4-4 at home but lost four out of their last five games at Invesco Field at Mile High. That can’t happen again. That won’t happen again. Good teams take care of business at home. If the Broncos see themselves as a good team, they’ll do just that.
4 – I’ll PICK THE BRONCOS TO FINISH 10-6. I know, making predictions in football is a risky proposition. But what the heck, I’ll stick my neck out a little.
Does this team have questions? You bet it does. We can start with the offensive line, continue with the run defense and keep on going with wondering who will emerge as playmakers and pass rushers. Those are all legitimate concerns and undoubtedly there are more.
What I find interesting, however, is that many people who wonder about these things tend to assume that nothing (or little) good will happen in these areas, that they will be areas of lack for much of, if not all, of the season.
I don’t hold to that view. If guys don’t emerge and produce in these areas, it will indeed be a long season for the Broncos. But I’m willing to wait and see what happens because I think there will be more that happens than some believe.
So here is how I think the season will go. The Broncos will be 4-4 at the halfway mark with wins over Jacksonville, Seattle, the NY Jets and Oakland (at Invesco Field). That means I think they’ll lose to Indianapolis, Tennessee, Baltimore and San Francisco.
Then they crank things up in the second half and defeat Kansas City twice (I know all about the numbers about winning a December game at Arrowhead Stadium), St. Louis, Arizona, Houston and San Diego (at Invesco Field). I see losses at San Diego and at Oakland.
That’s a 6-2 second half and 10-6 overall record. Am I a little optimistic? Perhaps. But it wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last.
If they are 10-6, I don’t know if that will win them the division or get them in the playoffs. But it will be fun to find out.
How do you think the Broncos will do this year and what are you excited and/or concerned about? I’d love to get your thoughts. Thanks for reading and posting.