SBNation has dubbed tonight’s matchup between the Broncos and Colts a “poopfest,” and by typical definition - a 3-10 team hosting a 4-9 team, both of whom have backup (or backup-caliber) QBs leading their offenses and coaches praying they still have jobs in three weeks - it could qualify.
But this is the Broncos, and they still have a defense with pride to play well at a venue that seems to have a jinx on this team, so unless you’re heading to a Star Wars premiere (ahem, Jeffrey Essary), then you should be excited to see what this Denver team will bring this week. Or at least watch Von Miller dance.
Will it be the team that walloped the Jets, or will it be the one that got spanked by the Dolphins (a Miami team, incidentally, that also beat the Patriots, but still...)? Will these players give the Embrace The Tankers what they want or will they prove to us that hard practices can translate to wins?
These are the things we’ll find out in mere hours, but in the meantime we have another outstanding Ultimate Fan Guide via Fan-across-the-pond Eskol as well as longtime fan lancing_2009 to help us think about this team we love.
Week 15: Broncos at Colts
MHR - What was the main reason for the win last week - bad Jets team or finally what the Broncos should have been all season?
lancing_2009: The main reason for the win was that the team actually came out motivated and ready to play football for the first time in what seems like 25 years, even though it's only been about 2.5. The defense came out ready and willing to lay the lumber and hit people; they forced a few turnovers early on and played with a lead for the first time since the Cincinnati game. Once the motivation occurred, there was a major change in confidence from top to bottom. I've been a major detractor of Vance Joseph here lately because if the team is actually prepared and motivated properly, they are completely capable of making this past Sunday a common occasion. He hasn't done his job well enough to actually get the best out of his guys all season, and that's why we've been struggling.
MHR - Finally we get to talk about a WIN! Are you happy about it - or are you bummed about it being meaningless and possibly ruining a chance at a better draft pick?
Eskol: To be honest, I’m torn. This team needs a franchise QB, and the Draft is still the best place to get one, most specifically in the first five picks. On the other hand, this was a much-needed win for fans, players and everyone in Broncos Country.
More than draft position, I’m worried about the coaching situation. It certainly was a relief realizing this team still has a soul, because what we’ve seen from the majority of the season says otherwise. I don’t like VJ’s performance so far, and the next three games will have a big influence on his future with the team. With every win, he’ll get closer to securing his job for 2018.
MHR - The Broncos D held the Jets to 100 TOTAL yards on offense. What was the difference in the defense?
lancing_2009: Again, it's purely motivation. The defense came out fired up from the jump, and we played defense like we've been capable of since 2014. It helps that the Jets aren't exactly a barn burner offensively AND we forced Josh McCown to exit the game due to injury, but the fire in the defense has been missing for quite some time now. We open the game with a nice drive for a FG, they got us the ball back, Siemian hit DT for a milestone TD, and the route was on. God Damn did that feel good!
MHR - Even without Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe, the defense was dominant. How confident are you in this unit moving forward with youngsters like Adam Gotsis, Shelby Harris and perhaps even Demarcus Walker?
Eskol: The D had the fire we all loved back in 2015 and 2016 and smothered the opposition. The DLine was disruptive, the DBs did their job and almost every player had a good game. If only it had been like that all season long…
Gotsis is becoming the player I hoped he’d be. He and Wolfe will make a powerful duo for years to come. Shelby has also stepped up to the occasion and looks like a keeper. Still, it may be wise to add new talent to the DLine in April.
MHR - Why do you think the Broncos’ running game is inconsistent and coaches keep underutilizing their running backs - and how do you hope the Broncos offense will use its running game tonight?
lancing_2009: I always say that if you are asked a multiple choice question, 95% of the time the correct answer is yes. Once again, my logic doesn't fail me - hahahaha. The running game isn't consistent because we bail on it early on in games, and the personnel isn't used correctly. Despite what VJ told us a couple weeks ago against Miami, we abandoned the run because the coaches said so. We were only down 6 points and called NINE STRAIGHT PASSING PLAYS! This was also early in the game, but per VJ, “we had to abandon the run to have a chance.”
We haven't had success because CJ doesn't carry the load as the primary back, Devontae Booker doesn't tote the load as a primary back, Jamaal Charles doesn't see the field AT ALL, and where in the world is DeAngelo Henderson? You can't rotate three running backs for 15 plays (not touches) a piece and expect to have a "hot hand.” Pick a guy and stick with him. Whether that guy is CJ or Book or Charles doesn't matter. Get some damned consistency by feeding that guy the load, and rotate a guy in when the first need a blow. Don't rotate offensive series like we do because that crap only works in New England, and they have the QB that can make it work.
Dearest mother —— Capt. Andrew Luck (@CaptAndrewLuck) December 11, 2017
The men’s extremities barely warmed before the unit was on the march back to base camp. Scouts send word a team of wild Broncos heads that way. I have heard tale there’s no air where they come from, so it’s unclear how they adapt to our atmosphere.
MHR - T.Y. Hilton has had three decent games this season for the Colts but has been known to be a problem for the Broncos defenders on occasion. Is there any way the No Fly Zone doesn’t shut him down?
Eskol: No. I play fantasy football and that helps me keep up with some stats and trends during the season. Even though the No Fly Zone hasn’t lived up to the expectations, it still doesn’t allow opposing WRs to do much damage. I’m expecting a quiet game from Hilton - 50yards, No TDs.
MHR - Frank Gore had 130 yards in the snow last weekend. How many do you expect him to play against the Broncos defense this Thursday in the dome?
lancing_2009: Gore will only have in the 60 area. Our run defense hasn't been the problem, and they aren't going to be forced to run the ball like they were in Buffalo. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it can't snow inside a dome. Stranger things have happened, though, so anything is possible. Gore might go off for a buck fifty, I just don't see it happening - especially not if Domata Peko is good to go.
Eskol: Definitely not 130. Last Sunday he had career high rushing attempts, mostly because of the weather. Gore is still a good NFL running back, but he's 34 years old on a short week after taking a beating. I’m expecting Indy to split up the reps, giving rookie Marlon Mack a chance to show his skills. Oh, and I don't know if you’ve heard it, but Denver’s run defense is pretty good.
MHR - Granted the weather was a factor last week for the Colts, but its defense held the Bills in check much of the game. Despite being ranked 30th, could this defense be any kind of a problem for a suspect Broncos offense?
Eskol: Last week’s game isn't a good indicator for anything. Besides the snow, which was kinda of a big deal, Buffalo played the 2nd and 3rd string QBs.
Indy’s D isn't good, and our O isn't good. Denver will have some success but will also have those boneheaded plays that destroy drives, especially on the road. At the end of the day, it’ll be pretty even. If we want to win, it has to be the defense taking control of the game.
MHR - An Indy blogger made this comment in a post this week - “This is still Mike McCoy’s system, he’s just the guy that took the fall for the Denver Broncos having zero (0. Less than 1. More than -1.) starting quarterbacks and a lack of game changing talent on offense.” Aside from the “it’s McCoy’s offense” bit, how accurate is he?
Eskol: McCoy is a good offensive mind but someone had to be shown the door. It wasn’t going to be VJ, it wasn’t going to be Woods (still has potential and you don’t fire the guy less than a season after sacrificing Wade Phillips for him) and it wasn’t going to be Olivo (this was after the Bengals game in which the ST unit had a good game).
Besides, there’s the Paxton Lynch factor. Musgrave had been working with Lynch and even made an adaptation of the playbook for him. With the QB change, it was logical to also make a change at OC. But now TS is the starter again, so what’s left for Musgrave? Take what McCoy had and roll with it.
Regarding talent, I disagree. This is not an untalented offense, but rather an imbalanced one. For example, there’s too much money “stuck” on two WRs (good ones, though that’s not the point) and then very little on the OLine. Fundamentals are the key for any sport. Master the fundamentals and only then you can move on to the innovation and skill chapters. That’s what’s missing on this offense. Well, that and a good QB who helps to disguise all the above-mentioned problems.
MHR - There’s already a lot of chatter about the quarterback scenario for next season at the Broncos, and Andrew Luck, still out with injury for the Colts, is always brought up as a likely candidate. How would you feel about the Broncos bringing in Luck?
Eskol: I like it. Every Colt grows up to be a Bronco. Luck is a risk and it’d cost some assets (not even considering cap implications) but it’s also a fairytale waiting to happen. I can't imagine him being happy in Indy regardless of what he publicly states.
lancing_2009: If for some reason Jim Irsay is stupid enough or high enough to allow a trade for Luck to happen, I would be ECSTATIC! However, the likelihood of that happening is about equal to both you and I winning the lottery in the same gas station at the exact same time. In other words not very freaking likely. Also, can we actually afford that contract? Double checking with our favorite capologist would say, “negative Ghost Rider.” So I won't hold my breath, hahaha.
Dearest mother —— Capt. Andrew Luck (@CaptAndrewLuck) December 14, 2017
Very strange. The Denver horsemen have appeared to vanish. All that remains is an enormous blue demonic horse structure. A gift? I am weary, but the men insist we bring it into camp. Although unnerved, I agreed.
MHR - What will be the most interesting matchup to watch?
Eskol: Broncos’ pass rush vs Colts O-Line.
For me, watching opposing QBs getting sacked is almost as fun as watching the Broncos score a TD (yes, I’m a bit sadistic). The Colts have a week OL and even if we lose I’m expecting to celebrate some sacks.
MHR - The Colts offense isn’t so hot and its defense is pretty awful too. Is there any way this Broncos team screws it up and loses?
lancing_2009: Absolutely it can. And it has NOTHING to do with their personnel. Unfortunately, with everything going on in my personal life right now I haven't gotten a chance to dive into the game like I would have usually, but the ONLY reason their defense is going to have success is because OUR offense has been absolutely freaking terrible. We scored 9 points against the Dolphins a few weeks ago, who at the time we're also ranked in the low 40s defensively (not a typo). Six of those points were via a defensive TD. What makes us honestly think that we can have success offensively, despite the Colts’ terrible defense?
The Broncos have been so bad that mediocre teams like the winless Giants came in and shut us down almost entirely. I simply don't trust the offense and whomever they trot out at QB. Period.
MHR - What would be your best game plan for the Broncos to win on Thursday?
Eskol: Denver has more than enough talent to win this one. Just don't screw the pooch and play clean, simple football.
lancing_2009: Re-schedule the game for Sunday and hope that VJ can muster up some magic motivation. Or plant a bunch of cocaine in Jim Irsay's office, call the FBI, and have the stadium shut down for the rest of the year. I'm not sure there is a good enough game plan for Thursday, given the fact that we can't execute a game plan anyways.
The Broncos win this by not screwing up offensively. Period. I really like what Jacoby Brissett brings to the fold as a backup QB, but he's not been exactly great. That team has holes everywhere offensively and a few decent weapons outside, but they aren't exactly a threat to do anything as blatantly stated by their total offensive ranking. They are somehow worse than we are, which is insane. If we hang on to the football, the defense has enough manpower to make it happen, and we can escape Indy with a W.
MHR - Fun fact: Peyton Manning was 6-2 against the Broncos as Colts’ QB. After coming to Denver, he was 1-3 against the Colts. Somehow - with or without Manning - the Broncos have had a tough time playing the Colts recently. Is there some karma still affecting the Broncos because of Elway’s snub decades ago?
Eskol: Maybe, but one must think that debt has been settled by now. With that said, I don’t mind extending the curse for another 20 years if the Colts send us Andrew Luck.
This is one of those matchup things that nobody can really explain in sports. It’s the same way with the Nuggets always losing to the Trail Blazers.
MHR - The Colts are famous for “sucking for Luck” and it hasn’t turned out all that well since getting the young stud QB. Regardless of that outcome do you agree with the “genius” in that “tanking” or do you think it’s one the Broncos should avoid?
Eskol: Sometimes sucking is needed, especially in the NFL. Without a franchise guy like Brady, Rodgers, etc., it doesn’t hurt to have a big first-round pick from time to time. Ideally you want to have only one down year and then go back up again to avoid getting stuck in the mediocre zone.
The 2018 Draft will be huge for the Denver Broncos. A QB for the future is priority, but OLine help is also very welcomed. Given that Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are out of reach without trading up, I like the idea of getting a stud player for another area of need and then trading back into the second half of the 1st round (Denver will have 10 picks I believe) to grab one of the other QBs like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield.
MHR - Whose coaching job is more on the hot seat this Thursday - Chuck Pagano or Vance Joseph?
Eskol: Pagano. Pagano has been on the hot seat for at least a couple of years. I can’t imagine him not being fired come January.
Things also don’t look very good for Joseph, but like I said before, he still as a chance of being the Broncos’ HC next season.
MHR - Which team has more claim on Peyton Manning - Colts or Broncos?
lancing_2009: Well both teams have a shiny trophy in their respective headquarters, so I'll call it a draw.
Eskol: I want to say Broncos, but I can't. What I do know is that PFM’s career would have been even better if he had spent it all in Denver. Colts have that ability of “lucking” into franchise QBs and then proceed to waste their careers with bad teams and imbalanced rosters.
Predictions - lancing_2009
Stats for Trevor Siemian? 15-33, 175 yards, 1 TD, 2 picks (this is a lock like clockwork)
Stats for each Broncos RB? We have running backs? Lol Booker will score a TD, but other than that say a name and roll some dice. How you interpret the way they land is up to you.
Number of yards receiving for each Broncos receiver? Sanders is about to go OFF. He's gonna get close to 100. DT gets his and catches 4 balls for 65 yards and a TD.
Longest FG? 48 yards
Number of sacks to Siemian? Siemian gets hit about 20 times, and 4 of those are sacks. Chalk up a fumble in there too.
Number of sacks to Jacoby Brissett? Brissett gets sacked an easy 5 times, twice by Von, but that seems nice compared to the amount of pressure he's under.
Broncos player with the most tackles? I would have said Simmons, but he just got put on IR. I'll go with Stewart or Parks. Somebody has to fill the holes.
Broncos player with the most penalties? Our rookie LT has a couple holding penalties and a false start.
How many holding penalties that cost a first down? 87 ;)
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? Broncos go in the negative here again but still get a FF and FR.
How many muffed punts for the Broncos? Zero, because thank God that JoTay is back there and not McKenzie.
Score prediction? I can't pick Denver here. I truly don't trust VJ to have us prepared on a short week, plus the road trip, plus the fact we haven't won in Indy since 2003. Colts 27, Denver 17.
Predictions - Eskol
Stats for Trevor Siemian? 222 yards, 26/35, 1 TD, 1 INT
Stats for each Broncos RB? CJ: 18 carries, 61 yards; Booker: 6 carries, 35 yards; Charles: 3 carries, 12 yards; Jano: 1 carry, 2 yards, 1 TD
Number of yards receiving for each Broncos receiver? DT: 75 yards; Sanders: 33 yards; Latimer: 18 yards; Green: 35 yards, 1 TD (And let's leave it that way or else I’m gonna take forever to finish this!)
Longest FG? 48 yards
Number of sacks to Siemian? 2
Number of sacks to Jacoby Brissett? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall
Broncos player with the most penalties? Allen Barbe
How many holding penalties that cost a first down? 2
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT
How many muffed punts for the Broncos? 0, Sunshine keeps it safe and simple
Final Score? Broncos win 20-17 with a FG in the final 2 minutes.
The Favorites - lancing_2009
Favorite Broncos game EVER? 2005 AFC Divisional Round. Champ Bailey's INT return and Todd Sauerbrun knocking the lights out of Kevin Faulk on a KR. It. Was. Brilliant.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Anybody. I freaking hate losing.
Team you love to beat? Anybody. I freaking love winning.
Favorite game this season? Since I have to choose, week 2 against Dallas. At least there was some promise after that.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Current bronco favorite is Demaryius Thomas. The guy may get a bad rap around here, but he's quietly elite. Emphasis in quiet.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Rod Smith. See why I love DT.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Garett Bolles. He loves this team like fat kids love cake.
Superstitions on game day? I change them with every loss. Typically I wear my Elway 1994 throwback away jersey and a backwards cap, and I have had to change my game day underwear every week this year (remember that?!?!!).
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I can't say I hate Jim Nantz anymore because he's not with Phil Simms and Romo is BRILLIANT, so I'll go Bird and the Beard because their analysis is simply bad and weird.
Favorite sports cliche? It's over when the fat lady sings. It makes me picture some opera singer belting out super soprano notes with her hand in the air all majestic like. I get a laugh out of it.
Favorite sports movie? 61*. Underrated baseball movie and Barry Pepper is one of my favorite actors. The amount of hate Roger Maris got that year was mind numbing.
The Favorites - Eskol
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 50. Didn’t get to watch XXXII nor XXXIII live.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Chiefs
Team you love to beat? Pats
Favorite game this season? Cowboys
When will the Broncos end the winning streak? Next week - I don’t see them getting past the Redskins :D
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Vonster
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Terrell Davis
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Jake Butt and it’s not because of the name (it is because of the name)
Superstitions on game day? Nothing really
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? This is an easy one: Phil Simms. I’d rather listen to three straight hours of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”
Favorite sports cliche? Offense wins games, Defense wins championships
Favorite sports movie? Fight Club. Ok, it’s not sports, but it has fighting and it’s a club. So maybe it is about sports.
Yay or Nay to the Color Rush? The helmet looks amazing and the people in charge of the uniforms should consider adopting the design full time. The jersey is also nice on its own but with orange pants and socks it loses a bit of its charm. Overall I don't mind Color Rush, it's only one game per season and adds a nice touch. However, I'd rather have Throwback Thursday uniforms.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Eskol: My history with the Broncos is short. It started in the 2011 season. And what a season that was, from Tebow’s comebacks to the Wild Card win in OT against Pittsburgh. Being from across the pond, I didn’t have a connection with any city in the U.S. besides being a Nuggets fan, so when I expanded to the NFL, it seemed logical to stick with Denver. Besides, there’s something magical about the orange and blue (not the Knicks one).
lancing_2009: I was born into Broncos fandom, but I was hooked after seeing my Dad cry when Broncos won SB32. I could tell that he truly loved this team (what seemed like more than he loved me - lol, jk). At 8 years old, what more can you do? I wanted to be like dad, so I made the Broncos my whole life. Literally.
Broncos play in their all-orange Color Rush uniforms tonight with the old-school D on the helmet. Like it?
This poll is closed
LOVE the helmet, LOVE the color rush - let’s do it all year!
That helmet is the bomb - let’s just keep that.
I agree with Trevor on the Color Rush - they look like human traffic cones.