This is the week.
This is the game.
This is the one we've either been nervously awaiting or anxiously biding our time for, possibly holed up somewhere like Chris Harris, Jr. just waiting to hit something.
Yet it's still the game Broncos Country can't wait to see - and maybe even get over with - so we can gauge our expectations for the rest of the year.
'Parting Shots' - Kansas City game
But as always, before we tackle Seattle (see what I just did there, Broncos?), lets get Zack Eckels' take on the Denver - KC game (the one he may or may not have predicted to go 42-6 in the Broncos' favor):
The game didn't go anything like I thought it would (other than our first drive). If you would have told me Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry were going to get hurt, I'd have bet everything I owned that we'd have humiliated the Chiefs like never before.
The only doubt in my mind would have been that we'd let off the gas in the second half while Brock came in (kind of like we did against the Raiders last year). We have a whole lot of work to do. We still need more conditioning and discipline. If we don't take a huge step up next week, we're going to be in trouble.
Looking ahead - Seattle Seahawks
MHR: Finally, the Game to redeem our lost football souls is here. Why or why not is it a bad idea (or a good one!) for the Broncos to look at this as a revenge game from the Super Bowl?
the_prodigal_fan: Honestly, I think it is neither. Knowing the competitive nature of professional athletes, I don't think they can help but have at least part of them gun for revenge. If that helps them win the game, that is great. If it is something that they focus on to the point of tunnel vision, it's going to cost them.
MHR: Based on the last two games, what are your three biggest concerns about the matchup?
the_prodigal_fan: The first and biggest one is the breakdowns on third-and-long. If they can't get off the field on third down, it's going to be a bad day for the Broncos, especially since Seattle's offense is geared toward the run game and ball control anyway.
Second is the lack of second half production from the offense. We have to do a better job of making halftime adjustments.
Third is whether our receivers can get off of the line against the physical bump coverage of the Seattle secondary. I'm somewhat more confident regarding this one, since I think that having Emmanuel Sanders's speed will be a game changer for us, but until we see that in action, this remains a concern for me.
MHR: Looking at the improvements from Week 1 to Week 2 - specifically the run game, Manning's efficiency, goal-line stands by the D - do the Broncos have enough chemistry/practice time/confidence to go into Seattle and compete? What do you think they need more of this week in practice to help this?
the_prodigal_fan: Based off of the first two weeks, no, they don't have enough chemistry or confidence. That may change this week if the game against Kansas City was the wake up call I hope it was for the team. As far as what they need more of, the primary thing, specific to this game, is practicing with as much noise as possible. It is going to be LOUD in Seattle.
MHR: The San Diego Chargers held Marshawn Lynch to 36 yards on six carries and Percy Harvin to 64 yards on eight receptions. What do the Broncos need to do well (and/or better) for containing these top offensive weapons to be competitive in this game?
the_prodigal_fan: Proper tackling form. We need to wrap up the ball carriers and eliminate yards after contact and/or catch. Harvin and Lynch are going to get their touches. The key is going to be using proper technique and swarming to the ball. If we can do that and prevent Harvin from running in space and Lynch from pinballing off of tackles, we should have success.
MHR: Part of Phillip Rivers success last week (aside from the heat helping him!) was a quick release so Seattle's front four couldn't impact the play. Peyton Manning is among the best in the business at getting the ball out quickly - and Seattle's D doesn't often do more than a four-man rush, so what is the key for the offense to avoid a repeat of the Super Bowl fiasco?
the_prodigal_fan: Simple, easy answer. Ryan Clady.
MHR: Danny Kelly of the Field Gulls blog said in his game recap, "So, the Seahawks game, that sucked! I forgot about that shitty stressful feeling you get when you're losing." Spot on. How do the Broncos avoid putting Broncos Country in that situation in this game?
the_prodigal_fan: Sustain drives. If we can avoid turnovers and three-and-outs, we'll be able to give our defense rest and either score points or at the very least, dictate field position.
If we can avoid turnovers and three-and-outs, we'll be able to give our defense rest and either score points or dictate field position. -the_prodigal_fan
MHR: Now that Wes Welker has been reinstated, what does his inclusion mean for this offense? Do you anticipate him being rusty and out-of-game shape or angry and ready to score some touchdowns?
the_prodigal_fan: Probably a bit of both. I expect to see him make some plays, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he had a drop or two.
MHR: A lot was made in the offseason (and certainly talked about here) about the fierceness of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and the potential for the two getting an NFL sack record. And while both are coming off injuries, neither has contributed to this "dominating duo" as we were expecting. In your opinion, are they just getting warmed up and still likely to be this force or is there something to be concerned about?
the_prodigal_fan: I am not concerned. I think Miller is still getting into game shape and Ware probably is too to a certain extent. When both are at full strength and the defense has gelled together, I expect to see great things from this duo.
MHR: Which defensive players are you expecting to be playmakers on each team?
the_prodigal_fan: Seahawks - Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. They are the keys to Seattle winning the game. They need to make big hits, rattle our WRs as they did in the Super Bowl, and prevent our WRs from getting free releases off the line.
Broncos - Von Miller and whoever we have covering Percy Harvin. Miller needs to show up in this game. He needs to be the guy who contains Russell Wilson and gets after him when he gets the change, and he also needs to continue producing in the run game.
The other defender who is key is whoever we have matched up with Percy Harvin on a given play. With his speed and elusiveness, I doubt anyone will be able to shut him down completely, so the key here will be to contest passes targeted for him and make him work for his catches, and then to get him down quickly when he does get touches.
MHR: If the Broncos lose but it's a competitive game, is that still a positive for the team?
the_prodigal_fan: Yes. Given the Super Bowl result and the fact that we are playing this game in the Clink, I would absolutely consider a close loss to be a success. That would show considerable progress in closing the gap between the Seahawks and us that we saw in February.
MHR: Give us some game predictions:
- Full stat line for Manning? 20/28, 271 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- Number of yards total by the running backs? 105
- Number of sacks on Russell Wilson by the defense? 4
- Number of sacks on Manning? 3
- DT/DE/DB with the most tackles? Michael Bennett (SEA)
- Player with the most INTs? Rahim Moore and Byron Maxwell, each with 1
- Number of penalties on the Broncos? 7
- Final Score? Seattle 27, Denver 24
MHR: And now just for fun:
- Favorite team to watch the Broncos play? Oakland, because I hate the Raiders. Even when they are horrible, I love to watch us blow them out.
- team you most hate for the Broncos to lose to? Again, Oakland.
- Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Demaryius Thomas. Dude manned up in the Super Bowl and had a record setting performance, and he did it hurt.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Elway. 'Nuff said.
- Best Broncos game ever played? I have two. The first is Super Bowl XXXII, because of the relief and vindication of finally having a champion. The second is the wild card game against the Steelers after the 2011 season, because we weren't supposed to be there, let alone win it. Just an amazing feeling when DT ran through the endzone in OT.
- How you felt after the Broncos beat the Packers in the greatest Super Bowl win ever? A mix of relief and elation.
- How you felt when they lost to Seattle last year? numbness and dejection.
- Favorite thing to eat/drink while watching a game? Nachos and beer. Is there anything more football than that combination?
MHR: If you could field a team with any Broncos player - past or present - who would be on it?
- QB: John Elway
- RB: Terrell Davis and Floyd Little
- WR: Demaryius Thomas and Rod Smith
- TE: Shannon Sharpe and Julius Thomas
- OL: Ryan Clady, Tom Nalen, Mark Schlereth
- Def.: Steve Atwater, Von Miller, Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright, Dennis Smith, Alfred Williams, Lyle Alzado, Champ Bailey, Keith Traylor, Rubin Carter