The story of the 2012 Denver Broncos is six games through.
If you follow me on twitter @MHR_Colby (self-promo!!) then you know I have said that my expectations for this team going into the week 7 bye is to be 3-3, or at least, I would be fine with 3-3.
When you look at the course of how these games played out, there is no reason the Broncos could not be much better than their record. The Broncos have seemed to find new ways to put themselves in position to lose games in 4 games this year.
When the Broncos took on the Atlanta Falcons, they had 3 interceptions and one fumble in the first quarter. The Broncos ended up only being down 13-0. The Falcons would go on to score again and somehow found themselves down 20-0. The team scored late to go down 20-7 and the Broncos can consider themselves lucky it was not worse than that. I do not want to call it bad luck because the Broncos put themselves in that position but it was uncharacteristic and something you will not continue to see. Since those 3 first quarter interceptions, Manning has only thrown one and that was on what looked like a wrong read by Matthew Willis.
The Houston game the Broncos blew some coverage early that was very strange. It was again, the first quarter and early second that seemed to jeopardize this team into making huge comebacks that could not be finished. The same thing happened against New England. The Broncos got the ball in a 0-0 game and looked poised to take the lead until a Demaryius Thomas fumble turned the game around. The defense could not seem to stop the Patriots even giving up two separate 3rd and long conversions to superstar Danny Woodhead. When it looked like all was lost, the team again had to battle back after slow starts from the offense. All looked good until two crucial plays by Willis McGahee were not made.
Week 6 Looked like it would be the same thing all over again. The Broncos put themselves into a position to lose with 2 fumbles on special teams early putting the Chargers into easy scoring range. What happened next is so fresh in our memory, I can still see Phillip Rivers screaming at everyone to make up for the fact that his favorite receiver was Chris Harris.
My point is that this team knows it has put themselves in tough positions. The way they are doing it is so strange though that it will not happen every week. It can't. The Broncos have played against three teams that are heavy favorites to play in the Super Bowl .They lost to a team that has been in 5 of the last 10 Super Bowls, that being New England. They lost to the only undefeated team in the NFL and they lost to the best team in the AFC through 6 weeks.
Rest easy Broncos fans. It is all downhill from here.
Before the season, the "experts" had predicted a tight race in the AFC West with a lot of them picking Kansas City to win it. I continue to say to myself.....how? Did the media forget that the Chiefs were missing the most important part of a football team, the quarterback? The Chiefs have no ability to win a passing shootout, something that is so common in the NFL today. The Broncos schedule which was ranked number two hardest in the NFL looks much easier the rest of the way. I am not gonna pretend I do not go through the schedule and pick wins and losses. We all do. But it shows how much of bologna that is. They play the games for a reason. Teams get injuries. We have injuries. They have injuries. Before the season the schedule looked a lot harder because damn near the entire AFC West had .500 records last year. Now if you look at some of the teams they play, it looks much easier. I am not saying it will come with ease. Nothing does in the NFL. The Broncos will lose some games that we probably should win but that is what a growing team does.
The rest of the way, the Broncos schedule is as follows:
Home vs New Orleans: 1-4
Away at Cincinnati: 3-3
Away at Carolina - 1-4
Home vs San Diego 3-3
Away at Kansas City 1-5
Home vs Tampa Bay 2-3
Away at Oakland 1-4
away at Baltimore 5-1
Home vs Cleveland 1-5
Home vs Kansas City 1-5
Even I can crunch the numbers on this. The combined record of the Broncos opponents remaining is 19 - 37. There will be some tough games. I have no doubt about that. But the Broncos will be better too. I can assure you that the Broncos will not turn the ball over 4 times in one quarter. I can assure you the Broncos will not fumble twice on special teams in a row. There will be mistakes, but the Broncos are getting better at forcing more against their opponents.
What I like the most about what is remaining is the Broncos finish their season with two home games against the Browns and Chiefs. Lets not forget the Chargers have a similar schedule to us. Those final two games could be the different in the division, home games, and hey lets shoot for the sky....A BYE WEEK! The Broncos during the bye week will not be sitting around on the couch taking naps eating funions and twinkies. That's for us to do. This team will find ways to correct their mistakes, figure out what is and what is not working. Continue to add wrinkles the opposition won't see coming. Whatever happens this season it will be a hell of a ride. If Peyton Manning can be this good after having a year off with brand new teammates, what in the world does this team have in store for the years to come with Manning as well? I think sometimes people forget that this is not a one year thing. Manning has plenty of football in him. He is on pace for the best year of his career and smash Broncos passing records set by our hero number seven.
I could be very wrong here, but the Broncos continue to struggle on first down running the ball. This may be Fox philosophy, Manning audibles, or McCoy play calls, or probably a combo of all three, but the Broncos seem to operate better throwing the pass to set up the run. The Broncos against San Diego had a huge second half due to passing successfully and being able to run after hitting large passing plays. This teams balanced offense is deadly when it works, and if Ronnie Hillman continues to improve in his pass blocking like he did last night, him and Willis McGahee could become an incredible one-two punch.
Look out NFL. The 2012 Denver Broncos have a lot more in store and now, they will get to play some teams that for once have not been predicted to win the Super Bowl. They will come off a bye week in a huge Sunday Night game against the Saints and it will all start there. The path to the playoffs begins on Sunday Night. The bye week cannot end soon enough for me, and I am so excited to see what else this team has in store for the National Football League.