Just like a Broncos’ come-from-behind win in the fourth, we’re getting the Ultimate Fan Guide out in the knick of time, thanks to a final touchdown drive from Mad Horses! Mad respek for literally doing this an hour before game time!
*Apologies for missing UFG last week - WesternAZbrocosfan44 and I didn’t connect in time to get it done (but don’t worry WAZBF44, you’ll get a chance this season!) And the scheduled poster for today - Aehdan - has no email address listed with MHR...so Aehdan, if you’re reading this, please email me for a substitute day!
OK, housekeeping out of the way, we have a fantastic preview from Mad Horses that not only has expected UFG optimism built in but very solid review of how this team should be evaluated nine weeks into a very odd season.
Let’s do this!
Week 9: Broncos at Falcons
MHR - WooHoo! A comeback win like Elway in the 80s! What were your thoughts about the Broncos at halftime, then 3rd Q when it was 24-3...and then at the end of the game?
Mad horses: Great question to start the discussion! During that fourth quarter, I could not help but think of the early Elway years, when comebacks were plentiful and games were always winnable. That was an amazing comeback that Drew Lock orchestrated...Exciting football!
MHR - The Falcons have had a rough start to this season as well, going 2-6 and even firing Dan Quinn after going 0-5. But now they’ve been 2-1 under interim head coach Raheem Morris and the team is looking more like it knows football. Do you expect this to be a close game? What will be the tougher matchup - our defense against Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Todd Gurley II, or our offense against a much-improved defensive scheme now that Morris has become coach?
Mad horses: I worry about the matchup with Julio Jones and Todd Gurley II, especially with a defense that has a few players missing. That stated, Denver’s D seems to meet the challenge even without some of its key players. I understand that Calvin Ridley may not be 100 percent, but this will be the match-up that defines this game — some stellar offensive weapons against our defense. Hoping that our defense prevails!
MHR - Shelby Harris was not cleared to play this weekend so didn’t make the trip to Atlanta. The defensive end in seven games so far this season has 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, eight QB hits and 15 solo tackles plus four TFLs. How much of a loss for Denver’s defense is it to be without Harris today?
Mad horses: Shelby Harris has been consistently underrated, except by the fans, who love him. His play has been remarkable and he may be the biggest factor in the defensive line (literally and figuratively)! His absence today will be huge. The mitigating factor here is our coach. Coach Fangio has proved his defensive prowess this season and may be able to put together some good schemes that help overcome Shelby’s absence.
MHR - Possibly worse, the Broncos’ secondary will be without A.J. Bouyé and Bryce Callahan. Which players are going to have to step up the most to help keep Jones and Ridley from attacking us all over the field?
Mad horses: Another big blow since Bouyé is not able to play. The onus will again be on Ojemudia and he seems to be developing into quite the corner. I am a fan … I think that he has the athleticism and the smarts. He will need to have an excellent game today. One or two misses, especially with Atlanta’s receivers, could result in some fast scoring.
MHR - On the plus side, Jeremiah Attaochu should be back in the line-up. How much does having him back help our pass rush and run defense this week?
Mad horses: I was so relieved to see that Attaouchu is back on the field. His presence and energy has been missed. Having him back will be a big boost to the pass rush. I think that we will be hurting on the run defense today, and I expect Atlanta to capitalize on that.
MHR - So let’s talk about Drew Lock. It’s been an up-and-down season for him, but last week he alluded to the fact that he’s not really had that many games of playing - or getting a ton of time with all his receivers - so the rhythm is coming. Where are you on the ‘Lock is the guy’ scale: “1 - No way he’s the guy; still not making his reads very well and too much tendency to make something happen” OR “10 - he’s got all the skills, just needs more reps, he’s the one,” OR somewhere in between?
Mad horses: Solid 8. I am a big fan, and have been watching his progress, with occasional regressions. But our fanbase has been way too critical on a guy who has played nine(?) games. He has the tools, and I think that he has the smarts. He is lacking in one category and that is experience. And he is also learning this offense with a lot of new players.
Ozark summed it up for me at the start of the season. With all the newness on this team, including a new offensive coordinator, and no preseason, and injuries to many of our star players, not to mention the pandemic and having to play in empty stadiums, this season should be looked at as one long preseason. That one resonated with me, and I have been enjoying the games with little expectations. I am more focused on seeing progression and development. And we are seeing that with Drew Lock.
MHR - Tim Patrick is questionable for today, but Lock still has an impressive receiving corps that showed up big-time last week with K.J. Hamler, DaeSean Hamilton and Jerry Jeudy - along with Noah Fant and even Albert Okwuegbunam. How do you predict they’ll be used today against a Jordan Miller-less secondary?
Mad horses: Today could be a day for Jeudy. I am hoping that the tight ends also answer the call. We have yet to see a lot of action from Hamler, but there are flashes of promise, like that amazing catch at the end of the game last week. DaeSean Hamilton … some good games of late from a player who has largely underperformed. Jury is out on him. Albert O is quickly garnering the attention of not just Denver fans, but the League as a whole. He is balling!
MHR - Phillip Lindsay is questionable today. If he’s out, how effective do you think Melvin Gordon III can be? If he’s in, will Shurmur use the 1-2 punch with these two? Do you like that approach?
Mad horses: I have not been sold on Gordon III mostly because of the high price tag that came with him. He has a lot to prove, and I hope that he does that today. There have been fumbles, and he will miss some time with an inevitable suspension. He seems to have the enthusiasm and drive, however. Hoping that he proves me wrong, but I think our running game, if Lindsay is banged up, will be hurting. Maybe, just maybe, Royce Freeman can be a contributing factor today!
MHR - Dante Fowler and the aggrieved Takk McKinley are out this week, which should be a relief to the Broncos’ offensive line and Drew Lock. What kind of offensive plays would you like to see from Shurmur today?
Mad horses: Very simply, we need to see Drew Lock stay in the pocket with much less reliance on the roll-outs. Good running plays, good utilization of our tight ends on crossing routes, and some good downfield plays from the pocket.
MHR - In honor of the Broncos-Falcons matchup today, where were you when the Broncos beat the Falcons in Super Bowl 33 and what do you remember most about that championship win?
Mad horses: It was a bit lopsided. Atlanta was a formidable contender but Denver was clearly the team in that Super Bowl. I also remember the whole thing between John Elway and Dan Reeves … somewhat of a fitting outcome for a relationship that had soured somewhat.
MHR - Name a player on offense and defense that has really stood out to you so far this season?
Offense: Albert O — and I mean no disrespect by not typing his full name.
Defense: Josey Jewell — he has really elevated his play.
Stats for Drew Lock? 250 yards, with three TD passes and two picks.
Stats for each Broncos RB? There won’t be a 100-yard RB, but here’s hoping that Freeman has a day and combined with Gordon III, Denver puts up 150 on the ground.
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Jeudy breaks out with a 100-yard game; Fant with a TD; Albert O with his second!
Longest FG for McManus? McManus hits two from over 45 yards.
Number of sacks to Lock? Two
Number of sacks to Matt Ryan? Four
Broncos player with the most tackles? Josey Jewell
Who gets the most sacks? Let’s give two to Attaochu!
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? Three turnovers for Denver D
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? All the ones against Denver!
Final Score? Denver puts up 31 points and wins by three.
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Green Bay Superbowl. Nailbiter.
Team you hate to lose to the most? Now the Chefs. That have supplanted the Raiduhs.
Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? See above.
Team you love to beat? Any team in AFC West!
Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? See above … Super Bowl with Green Bay.
Favorite game looking forward to this season? Home game against KC. Oh, that was tough!
Toughest game on the schedule? Away game with KC, for sure.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Von.
Favorite Broncos player of all time?
That would be John Elway!
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team?
Drew Lock, knowing that he is not really a rookie anymore.
Superstitions on game day? Have to don something in Broncos orange ... and french toast for breakfast.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Dan Fouts annoys me.
Favorite sports cliche? “It ain’t over til it’s over.”
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Mad horses: I truly believe that I was born a fan.