Ho Ho Ho!
Christmas Eve Day is actually my favorite part of the Christmas holiday. I love the anticipation of gifts, the last-minute wrapping (sometimes even a little last-minute shopping if you’re my dad), and a lot of cookie-baking!
This year is even better, though, because there is a football game featuring our favorite Denver Broncos. And although this season has left A LOT to be desired, any day watching the Broncos play is better than a day not watching them play.
And for our special holiday edition of the Ultimate Fan Guide, we once again have two highly worthy members - Road Apples and Trogdoor - to carry us through another game in this tough season and this extremely interesting matchup.
Extremely, you ask?? For a 5-9 team traveling to a 6-8 team??
Now that the Broncos have put together two wins following their eight-game losing streak, it’ll be interesting to see if the winning momentum and positive vibes can bring more big wins (and hopefully an upset) in the final two games. Our favorite weekly game show “Who Wants To Play Quarterback?” will feature two possibilities and could be a game-day surprise for everyone - even the QBs! C.J. Anderson and Demaryius Thomas are both on the cusp of 1,000-yard seasons while the Broncos defense is aiming to stay atop the leaderboard in spite of the team’s losing record.
And, of course, there’s a certain quarterback on the OTHER team who may be in contention for sporting the Orange & Blue next season, so watching THAT QUARTERBACK may - or may not - be a highlight.
Sooo much to talk about...
Week 16: Broncos at Redskins
MHR - It feels like it’s been a month since the Broncos last played, but at least it was a game worth remembering. What stood out to you in that performance?
Road Apples: A couple of things really. The first is that Brock looked pretty good out there, and that I missed how much more fun it is to watch a QB who is capable and excitable. I love a QB who appears to care as much as the fans do.
And boy is this defense still really good or what? Amazing how much more dominant this unit performs when the offense and special teams are not killing them with field position and turnovers.
MHR - What was more impressive to you in that Indy game - Brock Osweiler’s 3 TD-performance coming in for relief of an injured Trevor Siemian or C.J. Anderson’s huge night on the ground?
Trogdoor: Definitely Brock’s performance. As it’s always been surprising this year to see a good QB performance. CJ is definitely capable if given the rock enough times. Here’s to hoping he tops 1,000 yards this weekend (142 yards to go I think)!
MHR - Despite a tough year with some ups and a lot of downs, this defense is back on top in the NFL. What does it say about this unit to still be this good even with a 5-9 team?
Road Apples: Honestly, as I referenced above, it’s become pretty obvious that the piss-poor offensive performances, punctuated by terrible teams play, is really what drove this lost season. Brandon McManus needs to get his head right, and how obtuse can the coaching be to trot Isaiah Mackenzie out week after week. I mean, WTF?
MHR - The Broncos placed Shane Ray on IR again this week and Shaq Barrett will be in as starter. Do you agree with how the Broncos used Ray/Barrett since Ray returned from IR eight weeks ago?
Trogdoor: Not entirely, I know the prevailing sentiment around MHR is that Ray is only starting due to his draft position relative to Shaq’s, and I can agree with that. I also think Ray wasn’t having a good season due to the injury. It prevented him from lifting weights to get to his ideal playing strength. But in this lost season, I’m also happy that Shaq probably isn’t going to be worn down for our Super Bowl run next year!
MHR - The Redskins have had some surprising losses this season (such as to the Niners and Giants) but also some impressive wins over the Seahawks and Rams. What do you make of this Washington team?
Road Apples: I haven’t followed them closely this year, but they are a little bi-polar. They seem to struggle to put together full games in all phases. I think they are similar to our Broncos this season, but the level of their QB play is high enough that they were able to compete - and avoid a massive losing streak.
I’ll be interested to see where the franchise goes next year if Cousins does in fact leave them for greener pastures.
MHR - Kirk Cousins is coming into this game with a 6-8 team but a 24:9 TD to INT ratio, one of the best in the league. The Redskins are also 4-3 at home this season looking at their last home game of the year. How do you think this Broncos team - especially the defense - will fare in D.C.?
Trogdoor: I submitted a Fanpost with my picks, and I had two different scores. If Brock starts, Broncos 24, Redskins 13. If Paxton Lynch starts, Broncos 17, Redskins 16. That would be due to turnovers. I will always pick the Broncos; there’s no tank in me.
Now on to Cousins. Looks good on paper, doesn’t win much. Doesn’t win the close games. He was a 102nd pick in the draft. I think he’s good to midland, but not great and certainly not worth investing the farm in him. If they do that, I’ll cheer loudly and hope for the best, but don’t say I didn’t tell you so if he struggles in Denver.
MHR - Denver has won all its games in which C.J. Anderson has carried the ball more than 20 times. Do you think the Broncos have been smart about their commitment to the run game?
Road Apples: Looking back it really feels like they should have stuck with the run game. The run game typically gets stronger as the game goes on, but this is all hindsight, right? We knew we couldn’t come back from more than a seven-point deficit (probably couldn’t come back from a three-point deficit, if we’re honest).
And...not to pile on, but opposing defenses knew with T-fizzle at QB, they could play zone coverages and load the box against the run. I think McCoy felt like they had to pass to beat the stacked boxes, but well...we know how that turned out.
MHR - C.J. Anderson is 142 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. Do you think he can make it? And how many yards do you expect from him this weekend?
Trogdoor: Ah ha, I can read your mind! 152 yards...And 1 TD!
MHR - Despite Cousins’ success passing, the Redskins have no major wide receiver threats, but tight end (and former Bronco for a season) Vernon Davis is the team’s second-leading receiver. With the Broncos’ difficulty covering TEs, do you see this as a potential problem on Sunday?
Road Apples: 100% it’s going to be a problem. No real argument that it won’t be. However, if the offense can produce, and keep the D on the positive side of the field, and keep them fresh, I think it’s something we can mitigate given that they don’t have any real threats on the outside.
MHR - Von Miller and Shaq Barrett will be going up against two offensive line Pro Bowlers, Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams. Will we see “Vonster the Sackman” on Christmas Eve?
Trogdoor: Fur Shure! With two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, you’d think that Cousins and the Redskins would be much better on offense, but they’re ranked near the bottom of the league. Von will get at least one sack, and I hope Shaq gets one too.
MHR - What do you think of Vance Joseph’s decision (or indecision) to not name the starting QB until possibly Friday? Could this splitting reps 50-50 again backfire for an offense that finally got on a roll? (yes, my bias shows ;)
Road Apples: Haha, I feel your pain. You would think the coaches would have learned what a poor decision this is. Didn’t work last year, didn’t work this year, but maybe it will work this week?
I’m not sold on Joseph (is anyone?), and every week he does something that makes me feel like we need to part ways with him even more. We’ve murdered our top 5 draft spot this year, and as much as I would like to see Lynch really come into his own, I don’t think he’s going to. Not in Denver at least.
Roll with Brock, let your fans enjoy competitive football the last couple weeks, and hope that maybe Brock has made enough money, and loves Denver enough to accept a back-up role next year.
MHR - Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden noted this week that not knowing whether it’s Paxton Lynch or Brock Osweiler starting at QB certainly makes things a little more difficult since they are two different types of quarterbacks. Was Vance Joseph’s “wait and see” approach to deciding the starting QB secretly genius?
Trogdoor: Don’t know about genius, that’s a huge stretch at this point in his career, and I wish him the best. But what did Jay really mean? I bet he’s saying a few Hail Mary’s right now hoping that Paxton starts. That’s the real difference - one is really sucky, and the other is just a bit better than sucky.
MHR - Which QB would you like to see the Broncos start on Sunday?
Road Apples: Rock with Brock!
Trogdoor: Bring on the Brock Lobster! Cut Lynch.
MHR - Cousins is making nearly $24 million this year under the Redskins’ franchise tag and will be a free agent in 2018 - but is going to be looking at anywhere from $25-$35 million next year. Would you pay that for Cousins to be a Bronco?
Road Apples: I would love to say no. I really would love to say we don’t need to do that. But the simple reality is, yes. I don’t want Alex Smith, and I think Cousins is the top free agent at the position. And Elway has to have had enough of terrible QB play.
MHR - While the defense is keeping a close watch on Cousins, John Elway may be too - but for different reasons. Regardless of the amount of money he is going to command in the free agent QB market, what would you think of Cousins at the Broncos next year?
Trogdoor: If he’s worth all he’s cracked up to be, why aren’t the Redskins keeping him?It’s going to be a very interesting offseason, and I’m hoping somehow, someway the Broncos have at least two new options at QB (and NOT Cousins) to start training camp next year. I’m OK with Brock and Kelly trying to make the team too.
MHR - What is your “best case scenario” for the QB position next year?
Road Apples: If we are playing a game of candies and wishes, I would love for Swag Kelly to destroy the competition and take the job away from whoever denver has slotted to be number one. Now that flies in the face of my desire to get Cousins as an FA, but I’m a flawed human being, and I accept that.
Trogdoor: I hope they can pick up some free agent AND draft another. I don’t follow the college game close enough to say for sure, but I have a gut feeling that Jackson, Mayfield or Rudolph would be good in Denver. And maybe Bridgewater, Taylor, or Keenum? Dice roll!
MHR - Von Miller and Aqib Talib were the only two Broncos named to the Pro Bowl (remember when this team had eight ? Yeah, good times). But who got snubbed this year in your opinion?
Road Apples: I wish I had a list of guys to put here, but I really don’t. I love the play of Gotsis and Shelby this year. CJ is one of my personal favorites on the current roster, and Shaq has had a hell of a year, but none of them is a Pro Bowl player this season.
The one guy I would maybe point to is HeManual, but his injuries caused him to miss too many games and limited his effectiveness when he was active the last couple of games.
Trogdoor: CHJ, although an alternate, he should have been 1st team. And anyone else I pick would probably be just because I’m in Broncos homerville! Gotsis! Wolfe! Paradis! I like our guys. Let’s just say Simmons is going to be making the Pro Bowl soon.
Predictions: Road Apples
Stats for [Insert QB of choice here]? Brock will throw for 257 yards, 2 TDs and another TD with his feet.
Stats for each Broncos RB? CJ will get 24 carries for 113 yards. Booker will get 11 carries for 51 yards, and is Jamaal Charles even still on this team?
Number of yards receiving for each Broncos receiver? DT will have a big game. 153 yards, The rest of the cast will combine for 96.
Longest FG for McManus? Ugh. I just hope he doesn’t have to kick one.
Number of sacks to [insert QB of choice here]? Brock will get taken down twice
Number of sacks to Kirk Cousins? At least three
Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall
Broncos player with the most penalties? Garett Bolles
How many holding penalties that cost a first down? Minimum of 2
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 3
Final Score? Denver 27, Redskins 14 (which means McManus needs to hit two field goals. Fingers crossed)
Stats for [Insert QB of choice here]? Brock 18/30, 203 yards and 1 TD, 2 sacks. NO TURNOVERS! Paxton 13/26, 159 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble, 3 sacks. Yet they still win!
Stats for each Broncos RB? CJ: 152, 1 TD! Booker, 28 yards. Jano, 12 yards.
Number of yards receiving for each Broncos WR? DT, 101 yards, 1 TD; Sunshine, 54 yards; Fowler, 30 yards; Latimer 15; and Green 3.
Longest FG for McManus? 48
Number of sacks to [insert QB of choice here]? 0 (see above)
Number of sacks to Kirk Cousins? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Marshall (he leads the team by a good margin)
Broncos player with the most penalties? 2 false starts on Von, he’s hungry
How many holding penalties that cost a first down? 1 (please, please, only 1)
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2 INTs, 2 FF, 1 FR.
Final Score? 24-13, Good Guys
.@DemaryiusT needs 160 receiving yards to reach 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive season. This would tie Ring of Famer @TheREALrodSmith for the longest streak in #Broncos history.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 22, 2017
via @denverpost » https://t.co/BjdOhZOcKD pic.twitter.com/7jaigCZptu
The Favorites: Road Apples
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Got to be Super Bowl 32. My son was only weeks away from being born, and I had seen them lose so hard in the first 3 Elway Super Bowls.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Got to be KC. The fans are the worst (I live in Iowa, and am surrounded by them)
Team you love to beat? The Cheatriots of course.
Favorite game this season? The Colts. I really had a lot of fun watching Brock just sling the ball around - and who doesn’t like watching a giraffe lope his way into the end zone?
When will the Broncos end the winning streak? Hopefully never. Infinity and 0 until we ain’t!
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? This is hard. I love Miller’s talent and goof-itude (new word?) Love Wolfe’s attitude and zero tolerance for B.S. The No Fly Zone...I mean, come on. But when it comes down to it, I think C.J.’s dedication and desire to win as a Bronco, how much he cares, he’s No. 1 for me.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elway is the obvious answer, having grown up a Broncos fan during his era, but I’m a defense guy, and I loved Atwater. I can still hear the hit he put on Okoye.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Garet Bolles
Superstitions on game day? After this season, all of my superstitions are dead. None of them worked.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Simms. 100%
Favorite sports cliche? On any given Sunday
Favorite sports movie? Vision Quest
Favorite Christmas gift as a kid? Oh man! That was Jetfire, the massive autobot jet. That thing was the best!
The Favorites: Trogdoor
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl XXXII over my 2nd favorite team, the Packers
Team you hate to lose to the most? P*ts
Team you love to beat? Raiduhs
Favorite game this season? Dallas
When will the Broncos end the winning streak? Yea! 2-0, Baby!
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Chris Harris Jr
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Steve Atwater
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Peko/Bolles
Superstitions on game day? I always DVR the game, and then I watch NFL Redzone, until at least 30-40 mins in before switching to the DVR so I can skip commercials. I also like to drink Stranahans.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Bob Costas
Favorite sports cliche? We’ve got them right where we want them.
Favorite sports movie? So many... The Blind Side, the original Longest Yard.
Favorite Christmas gift as a kid? Slot cars, stayed up until 3 a.m. playing. Latest night of my young life!
"200 tackles a year for 10 years ... those are the kind of numbers that Hall of Famers put up."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 21, 2017
Randy Gradishar takes the No. 8️⃣ spot on @nflnetwork's 'Top 10 Greatest Broncos' pic.twitter.com/sEPYJjTHbJ
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Road Apples: I was born in Colorado Springs but my family moved away when I was a toddler. I was however, the youngest of 5 kids and one of my brothers carried the mantle of being a Bronco fan with us to Iowa. Obviously my older brothers were the coolest, so I grew up as a Bronco. Although one of my siblings embraced the dark side and became a Raiders fan, which is gross.
Trogdoor: I’m a proud 4th generation Colorado Native (1870s - Pueblo mainly), my 2 boys are 5th generation (Monument). There’s no place I’d rather be, and I’m in Denver now. And I’ve supported the Broncos from the beginning. I was born the year the Broncos were born (same as Elway, I’m two months older).
We used to opine that we had to watch the Broncos in the 60s and 70s instead of a different quality matchup, but watch we did (kids, there were only two games per week, maybe three total). We even had orange carpet in the basement.
I’ve personally met Reggie Rivers and Mark Schlereth, and I peed in the urinal next to John Elway at a Steely Dan concert at Fiddler's Green in ‘95!
What would you most like for a Broncos Christmas this year?
This poll is closed
Two more wins!
Two more losses and a top 5 draft pick!
An appearance of Sunshine at QB!
An Aqib Talib pick-six, followed by a chain-yank!
Cousins/Manning/Luck as new QB!
Whorfin’s Broncos Hawaiian shirt!