Happy Thanksgiving, Broncos Country!
Here’s to turkey, ham, pies, and all the fixings. I’d like to wish everyone safe travels, good traffic, and excellent times with friends and family. And, of course, great food!
It’s been a disappointing season for the Broncos, but Broncos Country still has plenty to be thankful for. So I’m going to run down a list of things I’m thankful for this football season, and which I think Broncos fans ought to be thankful for too.
Super Bowl 50
This happened two seasons ago, you say? Well... so what? Guys, we won the freaking Super Bowl just 21 months ago! That hasn’t happened for the Raiders in almost 34 years! And the Chiefs haven’t pulled that off in nearly 48 years! Heck, for that matter, the Chargers still haven’t made it on the board in that regard after almost 52 seasons of trying.
No matter how bad things have gotten this season, it can’t take that championship away from the Broncos. For that matter, the Broncos hold all three of the AFC West’s three most recent Super Bowl victories and 7 of the AFC West’s last 9 Super Bowl appearances.
I could go on and on about our players, guys. Win or lose, we should be constantly aware that we’re privileged in that we get to watch some of the best players to ever don a Broncos jersey go out there and play this season.
Who takes center stage? Obviously, it’s Von Miller. The Broncos’ lovable resident geek/chicken farmer/terrifying engine of quarterback destruction is in his prime, and strutting his stuff. He’s just 16.5 sacks away from passing Simon Fletcher for the most sacks by any Denver Bronco. He’ll do it sometime next season, and will likely become the first Bronco to record 100 sacks with the team as well. And he’ll do all that in just 8 seasons. It took Fletcher 11 to get to his final tally of 97.5 sacks. I’m sure thankful I got to see Miller absolutely wreck Tom Brady and Cam Newton. What about you? I’ll take a bold stance and say that he’s already arguably the greatest defender in Broncos history- and in two or three years, there may be no more arguing about it.
In the secondary, there’s still plenty to praise about the No Fly Zone. Aqib Talib is still rocking it at cornerback, and Chris Harris Jr. is rolling right along carrying Champ Bailey’s legacy on long past the end of Bailey’s career. And at safety, Justin Simmons is looking like he may become one of the best draft picks John Elway ever made.
And we should all be thankful for the improvement on the offensive line. It’s far from perfect, but it’s far better than it was a year ago. Ron Leary is proving to be one of the best free agent signing’s John Elway has made as GM, while Matt Paradis and Garett Bolles are young players who will help form a core to build around for years to come. Seriously, guys. We’re basically a quality right tackle away from the offensive line being a strength of this team, which is a world of difference from what it’s been for the past several years.
And let’s not forget the run defense, specifically with guys like Shaquil Barrett, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and newcomer Domata Peko. Peko was another great and highly underrated signing by Elway this past offseason. There were a few hiccups in games where the entire team crumbled, but by and large it’s been a night and day difference from 2016’s run defense to this year’s.
There’s a common thread in a lot of the things I’ve already mentioned, and that’s the GM. John Elway isn’t perfect- no GM is. But the Duke of Denver has an undeniable knack for bringing in excellent, high-impact free agents. He built the 2013 AFC Champions team, and then completely turned the team’s identity upside down and inside out in just two years in the process of constructing the 2015 Super Bowl Champions team. That’s a hell of a feather in his cap. New challenges stand in his way these days, but I’d rather have Elway there to take a swing at them instead of at least 28 to 30 other GMs in the NFL.
The Team’s Charity Work
Thanksgiving just rings hollow if there’s no component of being truly thankful involved. With that in mind, it’s a great time to give a nod to our favorite team’s players for their efforts to give back to the community. The team engages in a wide range of charitable activities, from hospital visits and visiting kids in schools to packing meal boxes to bringing in patients or veterans or other deserving groups to meet the team & experience a day in the building at Dove Valley. And a number of players have founded their own independent charities, like Von Miller’s Von’s Vision. It’s often low profile compared to the weekly grind of the season, but the Broncos definitely get out there and try to contribute their time and energy to improving the community. That’s always a great thing.
It’s Raiders Week
The weeks leading up to rivalry games are always a highlight of the season. We beat the Raiders once already this year- can we do it again? Either way, it’s a time to enjoy some good natured (or not so good natured) trash talking while crossing our fingers and hoping we get to see our team trash one of the teams we most love to hate.
Also- gotta love how Jack Del Rio is a head coach with a background on the defensive side of the ball, as we all well know. And now he’s had to fire his defensive coordinator after yet another year of fielding a sub-par defense that plays well under its talent level. Great work, Jack. Love that commitment to excrement!
We’re Not Raiders Fans
I think this kinda speaks for itself. Their team fell flat on its face rather than taking that next step into Super Bowl contention. Oh, and now the team’s getting ready to skip town on their loyal fans, just as they finally got decent again. Isn’t that just a kick in the pants?
We’re Also Not Chiefs Fans
Two things are certain about the Chiefs under Andy Reid: 1) At times, they will look unbeatable and will absolutely thrash a team or two that most people would say they have no business beating. And, 2) they’ll still manage to royally screw it up somehow and end their season on a crushingly disappointing note. And it’s happening yet again! After a great start, they’ve now lost four of their last five games and are in a complete tailspin. We might be too, but at least the Broncos have a track record of returning to contention after such failures. The Chiefs? They just rinse and repeat #s 1 and 2.
Just watch. They’ll fail to pull out of their tailspin and their once nigh-insurmountable lead in the division (and their chances of winning the AFCW in back to back seasons for the first time ever) will fall by the wayside.
And thank heavens we’re not Chargers fans!
I don’t need to explain this. What fans they have left are stuck in a tiny stadium they can’t even sell out, hosting home games for the visiting teams, despite the fact that they’re looking like a likely candidate for a come-from-behind division champion. And most of their (former) fans hate them now, having seen their team turn its back on them and leave for another town... one which already had an NFL team anyway, and didn’t even want the Chargers.
So, folks... I’m thankful today that I’m a Broncos fan rather than a fan of any of those other schmuck AFC West teams. And on a more serious note, I’m intensely thankful for the friends and family around me and the many, many blessings I’ve been given this year.
What are you folks thankful for this Thanksgiving?
How the Detroit Lions playing football became a Thanksgiving tradition - SBNation.com
Each year, the Lions are the background music to a family feast. Here’s how it all started.
NFL picks 2017, Week 12: Experts see Saints sustaining streak, Chiefs rebounding - SBNation.com
Once again our expert panel has reconvened for indispensable advice about every game happening for Thanksgiving week.
Darrelle Revis signs with Chiefs in an unexpected twist - SBNation.com
The former Jet is looking for a fresh start after an awful 2016.
NFL Panic Index, Week 12: Thanksgiving football worth talking about - SBNation.com
It’s Thanksgiving, and your friends and family are going to be worked up over a lot of football things. Put their minds at ease with the Panic Index.
NFL playoff picture: The Chargers can still win the AFC West - SBNation.com
A veteran quarterback, a stout pass rush, and a total inability to win close games.
NFL power rankings 2017, Week 12: Eagles have reason to be thankful - SBNation.com
The Eagles ought to be thankful they have Carson Wentz in Philadelphia.
Carson Wentz leading Pro Bowl voting ahead of Brady - NFL.com
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has bloomed into a raging NFL star, and the fans have taken noticed. He leads in early Pro Bowl voting ahead of Tom Brady and Le'Veon Bell.
Nine things to watch for in Thanksgiving Day games - NFL.com
Thanksgiving Day features a feast of NFL matchups. What are we watching for in the trio of Turkey Day games this year? Here are nine things.
Drawing up four backyard plays to dominate your Turkey Bowl - Matt Bowen 2017 NFL
You know what really takes the edge off on Thanksgiving? Giving a good, old-fashioned football beatdown before dinner. Our X's and O's guru runs through the plays that will help you bury your loved ones in the backyard.
Chargers will wear powder blue for first Thanksgiving game since 1969 - Los Angeles Chargers Blog- ESPN
The Chargers haven't played on Thanksgiving since before the AFL-NFL merger, and Philip Rivers has been looking forward to it.
Butt Fumble Oral History of New York Jets - Inside the NFL's king of bloopers at its five year anniversary
Think we've put this, ahem, behind us? Think again. On its fifth anniversary, we proudly present the definitive oral history of the best worst play in football.