I know it’s en vogue to rip on the Broncos right now. They’re 3-5 and basically all but eliminated from the playoffs... but in a stark change of direction, I’m uplifted by what I saw on the field in Arrowhead Stadium.
Here’s my takeaway from the Broncos game this past weekend.
#1: We have so many amazing ingredients, but we have a crappy chef. That’s my opinion on Vance Joseph. He’s just a bad chef. Look, we have the talent to hang with the Chiefs and Rams (Spoiler alert, they’re still the top 2 teams), but we don’t have the coaching to CONSISTENTLY put our players in the best possible position to succeed. We need a world class chef, or head coach in this case, to know that fish and strawberries don’t go together not matter how amazing they are separately, because Vance Joseph thinks they do.
#2: Our coordinators are NOT the problem. I really liked the gameplay that Joe Woods had today. The same goes for Bill Musgrave. Do I have slight concerns about some of the player personnel for certain plays? Sure, but I’m not convinced that’s all on Musgrave and Woods. I think they’re calling good games with the pieces they have. Sometimes the players simply need to play better. You can call up an amazing play, but if the players mess it up, people will call for the coach to be fired when in all honesty, that play likely works all the time in scrimmages or practices and the players just bungled it up when it counted.
#3: Remember the Shanahan era and his “we’re 1 player away from a super bowl” talk? Well, I honestly believe this team is a quarterback (and cornerback) away from being a consistent super bowl team. That being said, this team may not win many games this year, but we’ll hang with anyone. I’m not sure I should or can predict many blowout losses unless the wheels just fall off. While we’re not good enough to beat good teams, and we’re not quite good enough to not get our asses handed to us by the Jets, we are plenty good enough and talented enough to hang with anyone and you never know, maybe snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. (thus we need a great chef for all these amazing ingredients)
#4: Phillip Lindsay is a stud. He had two or three 20+ yard plays called back for holding. Was there holding? Sure, but those are the types of holding that go on all game, every game, for every team. They shouldn’t be called. His 18 for 95 yards should really be about 21 for 150 and a TD. He is the Broncos best running back, and I don’t care about his size. It will be rare that his size limits him, even on that failed 2 point conversion, his size didn’t hinder him. Yes there’s room for Freeman when he’s healthy, but Lindsay is our best running back. It boggles my mind that no team felt him worthy enough to draft. (Note: On that failed 2 point conversion, that’s as much on the line as on Lindsay’s size. If Freeman is in there, he’s a bit slower to the line and likely doesn’t get in either. But he is stronger so who knows. But I think Lindsay has just a good a chance as Royce).
#5: Penalties are sinking this team. I called it out a bit above, but penalties are killing the Broncos. The thing with penalties is that yes, they are typically subjective as hell and up to the whim of the referee. But take that loser mentality out of it because you can’t control the refs. If they see it in front of them, you must assume they’ll call it. So take the refs out of the equation. The underlying problem is that these penalties are either taught or they’re allowed. The coaches are either allowing them to do it or they’re coaching them to do it. And that’s the real problem. All these penalties? Sure, all teams commit them. But the Broncos are being flagged for them, so they need to be cleaned up, and once again, they are either taught or they’re allowed. Period.
Now onto the Power Rankings. And remember folks, this is how the teams look today and how they play today. Additionally, just because a team might have beaten another team, it doesn’t automatically mean they have to be ranked ahead of them. I mean, the Steelers and Browns tied, are they really of equal quality? See what I mean?
1. ↔️ Los Angeles Rams:
They were pushed to their limits against the Packers, but as expected, won in a close game. They remain undefeated, but for how long? Their meeting next week in New Orleans will be their toughest test until their home game against the Chiefs.
2. ↔️ Kansas City Chiefs:
And the band keeps marching on. The game was closer than most predicted, but again, divisional games are usually like that. This team is set for a long while with Mahomes, Hunt, Hill, and Kelce. Their only competition will be the salary cap when contracts start coming due. If they can keep pure greed at bay, they can be the NFL’s next Dynasty.
3. ↔️ New England Patriots:
Speaking of Dynasties... You’re still good, but your time at the top is coming to a close, and soon enough, you won’t get an automatic 6 wins because of your garbage division.
4. ↔️ New Orleans Saints:
Next week is going to be very telling for the Saints. They are clearly the second best team in the NFC, and their meeting with the Rams will determine if they are a true contender or not.
5. ⬆️ Green Bay Packers:
They took the Rams to the limit in a tight game, just as many of us thought. I just have one thing to say: This is the reason I’ve always hated it when people return kickoffs out of the end zone. Kneel and take the ball at the 25!
6. ⬇️ Los Angeles Chargers:
When you’re on a bye, you can’t really determine where you rank as you’re powerless while you watch teams either leapfrog you or slide behind you.
7. ⬆️ Carolina Panthers:
Cam Newton is on fire right now. He’s thrown for 2+ TD’s in each of the last 6 games. Plus McCaffrey is heating up as well. They’re playoff bound at this point.
8. ⬆️ Pittsburgh Steelers:
Man that Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown connection is lethal.
9. ⬇️ Minnesota Vikings:
So many turnovers. I love it! Almost like the “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” type of thing. Every time the Vikings turn the ball over, I get all tingly inside.
10. ⬇️ Baltimore Ravens:
Losing to the Panthers in North Carolina isn’t the end of the world. You didn’t put up all that much fight, but you have time to rebound.
11. ⬆️ Washington Redskins:
What’s that? 5-2? With Alex Smith? I thought he was the whipping boy for everyone. This team keeps winning and is actually leading the division. If the playoffs started today, they’re playing a home game.
12. ↔️ Philadelphia Eagles:
Carson Wentz is statistically playing great, but he still just doesn’t look right. Either that or this team just lost their edge in a big way. It’s up to their coaching staff and players themselves to get it back, otherwise I think they will be watching the playoffs from the comfort of their own couch.
13. ↔️ Cincinnati Bengals:
Way to jump out to a huge lead and then mess it up. That’s why you stay in the unlucky #13 spot.
14. ↔️ Seattle Seahawks:
150 yards rushing in 4 straight games. That isn’t a recipe for success unless you have a QB that can take advantage of the other team, and thankfully for the Seahawks, they have just that.
15. ⬆️ Houston Texans:
Last week was 4 straight. This week it’s 5 straight. Don’t look now, but this team is suddenly leading their division. And man Deshaun Watson is good! Scary good!
16. ⬆️ Denver Broncos:
Read my intro for what I think about Denver. Yes, they might beat the Houston (ranked right above) at home, but I just don’t see all that many winnable games from here on out. They should be really competitive though, and they’re talented enough to steal some victories if their coaching staff prepares them properly, which is the Achilles Heel of this team right now. They’re good enough to beat half the teams in the NFL right now. Unfortunately, they’re so poorly prepared that they’re bad enough to lose to half the teams in the NFL as well. Thus they are smack dab in the middle where they realistically belong.
17. ⬇️ Atlanta Falcons:
The bye week was brutal for Atlanta. No, not that anything really happened to them as a team, it’s more that lots of teams played better and showed more than the Falcons have up to this point. They are the biggest slider of the week.
18. ↔️ Chicago Bears:
The Bears definitely have their up and down moments. On the season they’ve been more up, but I just never really get that sense that they are able to beat that many teams.
19. ↔️ Tennessee Titans:
No real movement to report with the Titans during their bye.
20. ⬇️ Jacksonville Jaguars:
Again, I think the Chiefs broke the Jaguars. My goodness are they playing like hot garbage right now. And what’s even worse is they’re standing pat with Bortles.
21. ⬇️ Cleveland Browns:
My faith is waning with them. At least they’re competitive in all their games.
22. ↔️ Dallas Cowboys:
As luck would have it, they stay in the 22nd spot during their bye. I should drop them out of principle for wasting a 1st round pick on Amari Cooper.
23. ↔️ Detroit Lions:
The Lions are becoming the Lions again, and it’s not a good look.
24. ↔️ Miami Dolphins:
Remember when they were 3-0 and everyone was blasting me for ranking them so low because they just didn’t give me that “they’re for real” vibe? Well, they’re 1-4 since then.
25. ⬆️ Indianapolis Colts:
Where are all the knuckleheads saying the Raiders were gonna beat the Colts now? I wonder if Elway can trade for Luck? Give them DT, Shane Ray, and our 1st rounder (which will be high).
26. ⬇️ Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
It was ugly early against the Bengals, real ugly. But you made a game of it. I think this was kinda like a hockey game where a team gets a huge lead and then just cruises home to victory and then suddenly it gets really close and they struggle to turn that ignition switch back on and it ends up way closer than it should have been and sometimes a loss. That’s a long winded way to say “The Bucs got their asses kicked even though it was a tight game at the end.”
27. ↔️ New York Jets:
Power Rankings at their finest right here... The Jets are 3-5 and the Broncos are 3-5. The Jets even beat Denver. Yet they’re 11 spots lower. That’s just how these things work.
28. ⬆️ Buffalo Bills:
Just put them out of their misery. They have some ingredients, they’re just still too raw and need cooking.
29. ⬆️ Arizona Cardinals:
Winning by 3 at home is something every team will take. And they took it. Fitzgerald moved up to 7th place all time on the TD reception list. Congrats!
30. ⬇️ New York Giants:
The smartest thing the Giants can do at this point is keep Eli starting. That assures them a Top 3 pick in the upcoming draft so that they can find their new QB.
31. ⬇️ San Francisco 49ers:
When it comes to the bottom dwelling teams, there’s not a whole hell of a lot to say about them aside from “they simply aren’t very good”, and that definitely applies to the 49ers. John Lynch has some major decisions and strings to pull in the offseason. Plus I’m just not sure Jimmy G is the answer he thought he was. But that’s 2019’s problems.
32. ↔️ Oakland Raiders:
I honestly don’t think the Raiders will win another game UNLESS it’s the one against the 49ers. And that’s a big ass maybe. They have already fire sale’d their team and Gruden is safe to do it as he signed his 10 year pact with the Devil. I’m not sure that I’ll even bother to change this reasoning for them at 32 the rest of the year.