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Don’t Drink the Broncos Kool Aid

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Did you hear the one where Mike Shanahan said that the Broncos will make the playoffs this year? That’s not a joke — he really said that.

I think that’s crazy talk and it will never happen. The Broncos will not make the playoffs this year. My discussion and prediction are after the jump.

I’m not going to be totally doom and gloom here. The Broncos have done a few good things since last year:

  • They got rid of the over-complicated defensive scheme nobody understood.
  • Jay Cutler was diagnosed with diabetes and is getting treatment, so he should be healthier and stronger than he was last year.

They play in the AFC West, which is not a strong division. I think everybody agrees that the Chargers are number one, but:

  • The Chargers aren’t as scary as everybody seems to think they are. I like LaDanian Tomlinson, a lot. He seems like a really cool guy. But does anybody remember the end of the season last year, when he was sitting on the bench? He’s 28 (which is like 42 in running-back years). There’s no way he doesn’t lose a little steam this year or suffer one or more injuries. Michael Turner, the speedy little running back out of Northern Illinois University (holla!) is gone. Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers have been hurt and there’s no way Rivers doesn’t have a big target on his ass with all the shit talking he does.

The Broncos have made some changes that could be either good or bad, so I’ll call them neutral for now:

  • They’ve lost some key players (John Lynch, Travis Henry, Rod Smith — officially) and gained some key players (Michael Pittman, Boss Bailey). I’m worried about the loss of Lynch’s leadership, but on balance, think they should be okay.

So what’s the bad and the ugly?

  • We don’t yet know how many games Brandon Marshall will miss due to suspension. At first, prevailing opinion was that it would be two to four games. Now, I’m hearing that it could be four to eight. Shit.
  • An MRI revealed nothing wrong with center Tom Nalen’s knee, but there’s no question it’s a little wonky.

And. Here’s the real kicker (haha). Jason Elam is gone. Yeah, yeah, he’s “just” a kicker and he’s getting older. Sure. However, bear with me for a minute. Let’s look at what the Broncos did last season. They went 7-9, which was good enough for second place in the dismal AFC West.

Four of those seven wins came on the foot of Jason Elam:

Elam was reliable:

  • From 20-29 yards, he was 11 for 11.
  • From 30-39 yards, he was 6 for 6.
  • From 40-49 yards, he was 9 for 12.
  • From 50+ yards, he was 1 for 2.

I’m not crazy enough to say that without Elam, the Broncos totally suck. However, without his four game-winning field goals last season, the Broncos would’ve had a record of 3-13. That’s not to say another kicker would’ve missed all four field goals, but it’s hard for me to imagine another kicker the Broncos could get who would make all four.

I don’t usually make predictions, because I’m just not good at it and I usually make picks based on what I want to happen as opposed to what probably will happen. But what the hell. Let’s have a little fun here. I’m predicting that the Denver Broncos will go 8-8 this season. If Brandon Marshall is suspended and Javon Walker is playing (I guess Al Davis just had to talk him out of retiring and he’s been having a crappy training camp), I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos lost the first game of the season at Oakland. If they also lose game two at the Chargers (likely), they’re off to an 0-2 start and everything gets ugly fast. This wouldn’t shock me at all.

I will not drink the kool aid this year. No matter what Shanny or any commentators and bloggers say, I won’t believe that this team is going to be much better than it was last year until it actually is better.

Written by Tracy

August 3rd, 2008 at 11:26 am

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  1. The Chiefs are scary this year, but I think the Broncos have a 50/50 chance at the playoffs. Yeah, lots of questions, but it’s just been too long since they’ve been – it’s been almost thirty years since they went more than two seasons without getting in. But if they don’t, Pat Bowlen will end his long-time love affair with Mike Shanahan.


    3 Aug 08 at 11:52 am

  2. The tanned exoskeleton! I think of that every time I see him.


    3 Aug 08 at 12:12 pm

  3. It’s hard to predict where the Broncos will go these season because they do have so many questions to answer. Hey, maybe they will gel and Denver fans will be surprised. I happen to think there’s a better than average chance that they will go 7-9 or worse this year.

  4. ShanaTan’s “guarantee” is straight loopy.

    The loss of Elam does make me very uneasy…
    His replacement, Prater, seems to be impressing some folks in Dove Valley over the past week though. (kicked a 68 yarder on Saturday?!?)
    A lot needs to go right this year for the Broncos to fulfill Shanny’s insane prophecy.

    Sonic Tooth

    4 Aug 08 at 9:21 am

  5. Tanned exoskeleton and Shanatan…classic.

    I think there are 4 wins right there with OAK and KC. However, that first game just freaking scares me…we saw what happenned there last year. Lose that, and 0-4 is a real possibility


    5 Aug 08 at 9:19 am

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