Posts Tagged Denver Broncos

I Make the Call – Week 7

I said I’d do better last week, and well, let’s just say that it didn’t quite go that way. Missed it by that much. 7-6 for the week, bringing the season record to 58-32. That’s good enough for 19th place in a competition among 26 people.

So, nothing else to do but try and try again…

 

Seattle vs. Cleveland: Cleveland might be playing at home, but they may be without Peyton Hillis who is nursing a bum hamstring. Seattle will be without starting quarterback Tavaris Jackson and giving the start to Charlie Whitehurst. Both teams have trouble running the ball and stopping the run, but I expect Marshawn Lynch to  have the better of it. Seattle wins 20-13. Confidence: 1

Atlanta vs. Detroit: We are finally able to move on from the handshake and back to football in Detroit. Atlanta will definitely take a page from the 49er playbook and Frank Gore in rushing the football early and often with Michael Turner. Detroit will be ready for it. They won’t let themselves get embarrassed like that again. I expect to see plenty of Stafford to Johnson and a Detroit win 24-20. Confidence: 8

Houston vs. Tennessee: No Andre Johnson, no Mario Williams, no real shot for Houston. They have the 8th best offense in the league, but have lost their deep threat. No Williams means that Matt Hasselbeck will have all day to sit and survey the field. He will also be looking to get Chris Johnson back to track since signing his monster deal. Tennessee wins and takes firm control of the AFC South 27-17. Confidence: 4

Denver vs. Miami: Release the Tebow! Not that he’ll do much even against one of the worst, and now depleted, defenses in the league. Miami has scored all of six touchdowns this season, but I expect them to have success moving the ball on a Bronco defense giving up 123 yards per game rushing and over 260 passing. Tebow’s throwing motion is suspect and it’ll be interesting to see how much time he takes to survey the field before passing or just taking off running. Miami gets their first win of the season 17-13. Confidence: 2

San Diego vs. NY Jets: Now that Rex Ryan and Norv Turner have lobbed their volleys against one another cross country, it’s time to play the feud on the field. San Diego is off to a 4-1 start which is unusual for them. They usually get hot as the season goes along. The Chargers will be rested after what was essentially a two-week bye. Yes, they had to survive the end of game heroics of Tim Tebow in beating Denver, but they had a comfortable lead against a team that has had trouble scoring. The New York Rexes also had a bye of sorts against Miami Monday night in ending a three game losing streak. Short week, better team, and a QB that seems to never rise to the challenge in Mark Sanchez, I got San Diego rolling into the Meadowlands and flying home with the win 31-21. Confidence: 9

Chicago vs. Tampa Bay: Tampa is coming off a game in which they took control of the NFC South in beating the high-octane Saints pretty much at their own game. Chicago easily beat the Minnesota Vikings last week, but it didn’t come without some talk, namely mics catching Jay Cutler yelling an obscenity at offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who he blames for his constantly getting sacked. After stopping New Orleans I expect them to be able to get to Cutler often, bother him, knock him around, and just make his visit to London anything but a vacation. Tampa wins 26-19. Confidence: 5

Washington vs. Carolina: Will the real Washington Redskins please stand up. John Beck will start instead of Rex Grossman after Grossman kept throwing the ball to Eagles’ defenders as though he received a paycheck from them. Beck hasn’t been on an NFL field since 2007. It wasn’t that Mike Vick was lighting it up either. Philly didn’t bother scoring after halftime and still won. Cam Newton and friends do light it up. While it hasn’t produced more than one win thus far, after seeing what little the Redskins did last week defensively, I see Carolina winning 23-14. Confidence: 3

Kansas City vs. Oakland: I honestly don’t think it really matters who starts at QB for Oakland this week. I believe they give the start to Kyle Boller in order for Palmer to have a little more time to learn the offense for the final stretch of the season after their bye next week. The Raiders still have Darren McFadden and he still has two legs. The Chiefs, off their bye, barely squeaked by winless Indy the prior week 28-24. Now they get a good team. Matt Cassel will not have any time against the opportunistic Raider D. Raiders win easily 30-13. Confidence: 6

Pittsburgh vs. Arizona: The Steelers have something to prove and Arizona is looking to overcome a loss to a really bad team. Pittsburgh is looking to put together a complete game in all three phases as they try to win five of their last 6. Arizona will be looking to get the ugly taste out of their mouths following a loss to the Vikings. Roethlisberger, Mendenhall, Wallace, Polamalu against Kolb, Fitzgerald, and Wells. Kolb hasn’t played well going 21-42 in the game against the Vikings with no TDs and two picks. Pittsburgh wins comfortably 27-12. Confidence: 11

St Louis vs. Dallas: Who has more points in the Big D this weekend: The Cards on Saturday night or the Rams on Sunday? The number set by the Cards is 16. Sadly, I think the Cards will win that battle (whether they win the World Series remains to be seen). St Louis will be starting AJ Feeley at QB after ruling out Sam Bradford with a badly sprained ankle. While Dallas has been inconsistent, they have far more weapons and more comfort at the QB position (I never thought I’d be saying that) with Tony Romo in comparison. I expect Dallas to move the ball well and score easily on the winless Rams winning 26-9. Confidence: 10

Green Bay vs. Minnesota: Welcome to the NFL Christian Ponder. Your first assignment: Beat the defending Super Bowl Champs. Aaron Rodgers is completing 70% of his passes and has 17 touchdowns. He has weapons all over the field and will be facing a defense that gave up 377 yards to the Bears. Green Bay’s defense has racked up 15 sacks this season. Ponder showed the ability to get away from on-coming attackers against the Bears, but the Packers are a far different beast—faster, stronger. GB wins going away 34-6. Confidence: 13

Indianapolis vs. New Orleans: New Orleans is coming off a tough loss to division rival Tampa 26-20 in a game in which they were beaten with the same high-powered offense they’re used to using to push teams into submission. That should be easy enough against the winless Colts. Indy has played better of late, especially since turning the team over to Curtis Painter. The Saints will be without their head coach, well, sort of. Sean Payton who had his leg broken and torn up after a sideline collision will spend the rest of the season coaching from the press box. This change puts more on Drew Brees to be even more vocal and coach-like on the field. This week, I don’t think that will be an issue. I expect the Saints to be their explosive selves in this one, both to show their coach they can do it without him and to wash last week from their mouths. NO wins 41-23. Confidence: 7

Baltimore vs. Jacksonville: Rookie QB vs. one of the most dominant defenses in the history of the league. Blaine Gabbert has looked good thus far. While not winning since taking over, he has thrown for a touchdown in four straight games. He also has the option to hand the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew, the third best rusher in the league. Joe Flacco has his own pretty good back in Ray Rice. He also knows he has a defense lead by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to give him pretty damn good field position. Ravens win 20-7. Confidence: 12

 

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I Make the Call–Week 5 Edition

At the quarter pole, I am at 41-23 picking the results for NFL football games, including a 12-4 week 4. There were plenty of gimme games last week, the biggest was the World Champ Packers taking on my hometown anemic Denver Broncos. How bad was it, Packer fans were so bored they started chanting for Tim Tebow in the 4th quarter. Can I say I have given up all hope and faith of the Minnesota Vikings winning a game this season after choking to the KC Chefs?

Ok, on to this week. I was totally sober making all of these. Only 13 games as we start bye weeks. Here we go:

Philadelphia vs. Buffalo: I took Philadelphia. They’re 1-3 and can’t stop anyone. Their offense is a mess as they can’t keep Mike Vick upright. Buffalo has everything going its way so far outside of a freaky win by Cincinnati last week. Philly is desperate, though. I think that hole they’re in pushes them more than anything else, including Andy Reid can. They pull this out in the 4th as for one day, everything finally looks like it clicks for them. 23-16. Confidence: 5

Kansas City vs. Indianapolis: Until Peyton Manning is on the sidelines in something other than jeans and a polo shirt, the Colts are pretty much screwed. Their defense has been playing well enough to keep them in games so far, but KC looked last week like maybe they were starting to put things together. You saw a fire lit under Matt Cassel after he took on Coach Todd Haley in full view of a national TV audience last week in their win over Minnesota. KC wins 20-7. Confidence: 4

Arizona vs. Minnesota: Minnesota couldn’t even get the comfortable halftime lead they’ve enjoyed in past weeks against the formerly winless KC Chefs. Donovan McNabb looks lost, confused, old, befuddled, and a bunch of other things that I can use to say he can’t play anymore. He’s still their starter. Arizona has the guy he was once traded for. McNabb had a hissy-fit when Philly went with Kolb and exiled him to Washington. Kolb has something to prove. Did I mention he has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to? Arizona wins 24-14. Confidence: 3

Seattle vs. NY Giants: Seattle is incompetent at all areas of the game right now. They have a QB that Minnesota was more than happy to get rid of to allow McNabb to take over. If McNabb is an improvement….Tom Coughlin has been fairly satisfied with his team’s play so far. Their talent is far greater than anything Seattle can manage to control. NY 23-10. Confidence: 12

Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is banged up. Ben Roethlisberger has spent the entire week in a walking boot; James Harrison has a fractured orbital bone; Rashard Mendenhall has a hamstring issue. Tennessee, on the other hand, has been cruising. They absolutely clocked the Browns and beat the same Ravens team that stuffed it down the Steelers’ throats. I got Tennessee 27-14. Confidence: 2

New Orleans vs. Carolina: This game has shoot out written all over it. Drew Brees and Cam Newton can and probably will exceed 400 yards passing. The problem is, the Saints have multiple play makers and Carolina has Steve Smith.  Most of Newton’s passing will come as he makes a furious comeback attempt in the 4th quarter to make the final score respectable. Brees and company show Cam how a high-powered offense operates 41-28. Confidence: 9

Cincinnati vs. Jacksonville: Last week Cincinnati didn’t allow a 17-3 halftime deficit to the previously unbeaten Buffalo Bills faze them. All they did was come back after the break and outscore them 20-3 including the game winning field goal as time expired. Andy Dalton has fans asking “Carson who?” AJ Green is as advertised. Jacksonville is a mess. At 1-3, they don’t have a winnable game on their schedule until after the bye when they face Indy—and that’s provided Jack Del Rio is still around. They have thrown rookie QB Blaine Gabbert into the fray after cutting incumbent David Garrard in favor of Luke McCown who quickly showed the nation he has no idea how to play the QB position in the NFL. Gabbert is learning the offense on the fly and that doesn’t bode well. Cinci has confidence, Jacksonville has questions—lots of them. Bengals win 20-10. Confidence: 6

Oakland vs. Houston: It’s too bad that Al Davis has passed. He would love to watch this year’s team play. It’s playing the kind of beat-the-hell outta the opponent football he loved, craved, and taught. Darren McFadden has 468 yards and three touchdowns on the season already. Jason Campbell was 25-39 and 344 yards with a touchdown against the vaunted Patriots last week in a loss. Matt Schaub will be without his favorite target as Andre Johnson sits with a hamstring that required what the team called a “minor procedure” during the week. Who’ll step up? Who knows. Arian Foster is still shaking off the rust following his own hamstring issues this season. I got the Raiders continuing to play Davis-ball and keeping Schaub in check 23-16. Confidence: 1

Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco:  Tampa has pulled as many escape acts this season as Harry Houdini did his entire career. Last week started by falling 10-0 behind winless Indy before coming back to win. They have also been sloppy committing 14 penalties. San Francisco is coming home with the confidence of winning back-to-back road games in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Alex Smith proved he can lead the team back from a deficit throwing for 201 yards and two touchdowns against Philly last week. Smith and the rest of his 49er teammates have confidence while Tampa seems to have a lot of luck on its side so far. Talent and confidence trump 20-13. Confidence:  7

San Diego vs. Denver: Denver is a mess. They’ve had injuries on defense, they’ve had issues running the ball, stopping the run, and most importantly there’s the Tim Tebow conundrum. They were blown, not just out of Lambeau Field last week, but out of the state of Wisconsin by the Packers. Tim didn’t see a second of action in garbage time and that further enraged his legions of followers. San Diego is where it usually is these days—on top of the AFC West at 3-1 and have very few issues other than not being consistent scoring touchdowns in the red zone. QB Phillip Rivers is as comfortable at Mile High as he is in his own living room. Other than doing some nice things defensively with Von Miller and a finally healthy Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey, the Broncos are destined for 1-5 and a near riot for Tebow after the bye. It was also telling that Bronco VP John Elway was personally on hand on the Stanford sidelines Saturday to witness Andrew Luck disembowel the Colorado Buffaloes. Chargers win 27-17. Confidence: 13

NY Jets vs. New England: So far Rex Ryan’s bark has been far worse than his or his team’s bite. The vaunted defense from a year ago has been largely MIA this season. No one seems afraid of Darrell Revis or anyone else defensively. Last week against Baltimore, Mark Sanchez appeared lost as he turned the ball over four times which resulted in 21 Baltimore points. He will have a better day playing against one of the worst defenses in the league. Tom Brady, however, has been his usual surgical self in leading the league in passing yards and has amassed 13 touchdowns. Mark Sanchez is a mess; Tom Brady is playing like a man possessed. Pats win 35-20. Confidence: 10

Green Bay vs. Atlanta: This is a replay of last year’s divisional round playoff game down to it being in Atlanta. That game and the rest of the playoffs resulted in the Pack taking home the hardware. Green Bay is 4-0 after dismantling what was left of Denver’s confidence last week. Aaron Rodgers has Cheeseheads wondering why they hung on to Brett Favre as long as they did. Atlanta, to have a chance to win, has to clean up its defense, and Matt Ryan has to be nearly flawless to not allow Green Bay opportunities on a short field. Green Bay is just rocking everyone and I believe Atlanta may be too amped in its attempt to exact revenge for last year. Pack win 34-20. Confidence: 11

Chicago vs. Detroit: Nick Fairley looks like a go for Detroit to assist Ndamukong Suh wreak havoc on offenses across the NFL. It will take time for it all to blend together, but their first game will be Monday night against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Detroit comes into this game with the confidence that they can come back from anything after coming back from 27-3 in the 3rd quarter to beat Dallas last week. QB Matt Stafford is playing with confidence and Calvin Johnson catches everything thrown in the same zip code. The Bears come in having beat Carolina, but also giving up 543 yards to Cam Newton and friends. The defense makes life difficult on Cutler who’ll never feel comfortable in this game. Lions go to 5-0 for the first time in forever winning 20-10. Confidence: 8

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Orton or Tebow? The Answer is Easy

I am having a hard time understanding why there is a so-called “controversy” here in Denver regarding who will be the starting quarterback for the Broncos this season. There’s a question? Really? No there isn’t. Who gives the Broncos the best shot at winning football games? That would be Kyle Orton. Emotions aside, Orton is the answer, always was the answer, and unless he gets hurt, will be the answer for this season. Veterans win games

Denver Broncos QB Kyle Orton

in the NFL. They’ve been there, they’ve seen it, they’ve done it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not adding to the bon fire Merril Hoge began via his Twitter account and SportsCenter appearance last week. Tim Tebow doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment. He is an intelligent, hard-working, athletic leader who will enjoy success in the NFL if he continues to put in the work. What other 23-year-old has published his memoirs? He’s got it all together. He’ll be fine. Right now, however, the Broncos best chance of winning games and seeing the playoffs is with Kyle Orton under center.

The idea of the NFL is to put the best players on the field who give the team the best chance of winning football games, unless you’re the Oakland Raiders and then you just place an ad on Craigslist and hope for the best. That is what training camp is about. It’s about evaluating talent and skill. With that in mind, Tim Tebow has work to do. Work that Kyle Orton has already put in. Some of that’s due to Orton just being older, wiser, and being in the league longer, some on the lockout that kept Tim from being able to work with the coaches who are in the best position to teach him and help him excel at the things he needs to, and some of it being to how Tim played at the University of Florida. It is his success at Florida and his work ethic that will make him a good quarterback in the years to come.

Emotions have been running high here in Denver since the lock out ended. Most Bronco fans want Tebow. Tim has a lot going for him; things that fans are clamoring for and have been since one John Elwaytook his Lomardi Trophy and rode off into the sunset more than a decade ago. Tim displays leadership, intelligence, work ethic, athletic ability, decent arm, and quick legs that make him hard to catch once he takes off down the

Fan favorite Tim Tebow

field. He did have six rushing touchdowns last season.He’s at practice before the coaches, and we all know NFL coaches live in their offices once training camp kicks off. Everyone who meets him is drawn to him. Think back to that now famous speech he gave following a loss to Mississippi in September 2008. He took that pledge to two BCS National Championships. He came into the NFL fully entrenched in that pledge. It is who he is. It is what he believes in. It will be what propels him to success. It’s the creed he lives by and will push his Bronco teammates to live and play by. More so, he gets the game. He understands that a hell of a lot is expected out of the quarterback position in the NFL. That very speech at Florida makes the case. He’s just not quite there yet. He showed glimpses of it in his three game audition last season, but it also showed that work remains and that’s why Orton is the answer right now.

I am watching two completely opposite forces in action at play here–the fans’ emotional attachment to Tebow vs. the Broncos’ coaching and management staffs’ need to do their jobs of putting the best team on the field. Fans love a winner. Fans love a sports star who does things the right way–works hard, stays out of trouble, grew up with the life lessons that Tebow has had. It’s a hard thing for management to overcome. I applaud John Elway and John Fox for not letting any of that cloud their judgement. If the entire debate came down to leadership, likability, discipline, and work ethic, the Broncos should just go right on ahead and cut Orton today. The fans can’t see past their current ass-kissing to see that there is far more involved than that. Tebow’s mechanics need work, especially from under center. He needs work making the reads down field as well as getting the ball there with accuracy. He was less than a 50% passer last year while Orton was nearly a 60% one. In college, Tebow worked mainly from shot-gun formations and if the pass wasn’t there immediately, he took off. NFL offenses don’t run that way. They are far too complex and intricate and take more than the 3.5 seconds Tebow let pass before he took off. It takes making the reads down the field and trusting that your offensive line will hold up long enough to make them and get rid of the ball. It takes learning to quickly read defenses and potentially changing the play before the snap if necessary. These are all things that Kyle Orton can do and do very well. Tim will get it in time, but not before week 1 of this season.

If people are still not convinced, and I doubt the ardent Tebow fans aren’t. For you, I am sorry and I still hope that you will be Broncos fans when they win games with Orton at the helm. In fact I will guarantee that you will be the first ones standing up and cheering when they win. I am a numbers guy. I don’t hold a business degree for nothing, you know. For one thing, they don’t lie. Orton played 13 games last season while Tebow started the final three following the “don’t let the door hit ya in the ass” firing of Josh McDaniels. Stretching each’s stats to a full 16 game season, I rest my case:

Orton:

2010: 361 comps    613 att  (58.8%)    4496 yards    25 TDs    11 INTs    87.5 rating

Tebow:

2010: 213 comps    432 att  (49.4%)    3472 yards    21 TDs    16 INTs    77.7 rating

A shade under 4500 yards and close to 60% passing with a better than 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio is far superior to less than 50% passing with less than 3500 yards and nearly equal numbers when it comes to touchdown to interception ratio. Case closed. Once Tebow fixes those things in his game that need to be fixed, those numbers will improve. Again, the NFL is “win now”. The numbers clearly indicate who’ll do that more consistently.

Like I said, this isn’t even a controversy. The bigger problem the Broncos have to answer are on the other side of the ball. It isn’t who will be throwing it for them, but who’ll be stopping the other guy from throwing it. The Broncos could put up points last season. That wasn’t the big deal. The big deal was they couldn’t stop anyone else from scoring on them. Some weeks looked like an arena league score. They have addressed their needs defensively taking Von Miller with the #2 overall pick in the draft and have a key piece returning healthy to the lineup in QB killer Elvis Dumervil. Word from camp is that both have been virtually unblockable. The Broncos didn’t need to make a splashy play in free agency, and they didn’t other than addressing a need in bringing in Willis McGahee.

One thing I will give Tim credit for is his handling of all the criticism heaped on him recently, notably the harsh and unwarranted words of ESPN analyst Merril Hoge. Merril went to his Twitter account and said “It’s embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow.” He continued and expanded on his post later on SportsCenter adding “He is awful as far as his accuracy goes and what’s kind of even more disturbing, he’s probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pocket.” First of all, Hoge admits his analysis (I thought analysis was supposed to be built on fact and not fiction) is based on video from last season. While Tim admittedly has taken a little bit of a step backwards this season, much of that can be attributed to not being there working with the coaches best trained to get him NFL ready. What did he expect from a rookie–Joe Montana? John Elway? Noe Namath? You played running back, dude. Go grade them and leave the quarterbacks to the guys that actually played the position. Tebow won’t be a bust. He needs time to develop the rest of the skillset he needs. He has the tools to get there and do it, now he has the people around him to finish the job.

Rational thought will always beat out emotion. Emotion pushes people to be rash and not think thinks through. It doesn’t take statistics or talent into account. People don’t want to think about the NFL being a business first. People want wins and they want the guys they like. I’m sorry, but you sometimes don’t get what you want, fans. Yes, they relate to Tebow more than they do Orton. Tebow is there front and center. Kyle goes about his work in relative obscurity, but gets results. John Elway is a hall of fame quarterback. John Fox is a long time coach in the league. They understand that the fans want Tim Tebow. They also understand is that their only concern is to produce wins. I will put money that if they were to start Tim Tebow right now, before he is totally polished, and the team goes 3-13 or 4-12, those same fans clamoring for Tim will be the same ones demanding Elway and Fox’s heads on platters. In other words, the fans need to leave the choices to those in the best position to make them.

This is only a controversy in the minds of the fans who aren’t getting what they want. That’s life; we don’t always get what we want. Tim Tebow has come to accept that in being pushed to the back up role and now it’s the fans’ turn to learn this valuable life lesson.The NFL can be a harsh place. It’s a privileged place to be. The fans need to take their emotions and direct them in a way that will be helpful to the team they support. They need to show up at games and cheer and be loud and make things as miserable as possible for the opposition. They need to leave the business side of the game to the leaders who get paid to make the tough and right calls. The sooner the fans come to realize this, the sooner they’ll also see that there was never a controversy and the answer is just as easy as I do.

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