Well, ultimate Broncos fans, the team almost pulled off the upset last week against the hated Kansas City Chiefs, so what better way to fix that frustration than a resounding win over the Panthers this week! And with Carolina down some players due to injury and covid, Denver has a good opportunity for an East Coast road win - something they aren’t used to getting.
The last time the Broncos played the Panthers, a Peyton Manning-less Denver team faced off at home against a Cam Newton-led Carolina team for a Super Bowl 50 rematch - and it went about as well as the game nine months before. But these two teams look nothing like they did four years ago, so it might as well be a new series.
So it’s appropriate that this week’s ultimate fan is new to the UFG and relatively new to Broncos fandom - so give him a big welcome. He admits to being a bandwagon fan but to his credit, has not retreated despite the super lean years ever since he jumped on. And NoahStrawn57 is all in as he’s not just picking the win on Sunday but pulling for wins the rest of the season to get this team beyond a losing record for the first time in too long.
Week 14: Broncos at Panthers
MHR - Last week the Broncos lost but had a chance to beat the former Super Bowl champs. What were your thoughts about the way the offense and defense played that game?
NoahStrawn57: In my opinion Drew played very well. It was like the Miami game in a lot of ways. He played well in between the interceptions. I think that if KJ Hamler comes down with that throw on third down in the fourth, it’s a different outcome. As for the defense, they were lights out the entire game. They kept Mahomes to 0-4 in the red zone. The bend but don’t break mentality was perfect for this game.
MHR - Broncos are 4-8 and have a fairly decimated Panthers team this week plus Chargers, Bills and Raiders. Would you prefer the Broncos win out to get an even record or lose out to get a better draft position. If it’s “losing out,” does it matter how they lose (i.e., compete hard but still end up losing)?
NoahStrawn57: I would prefer winning. Every year since 2016 there’s been improvement record-wise, and it would be nice this year to at least finish at .500. I believe there is enough talent to make it possible to find a good player in the mid-first round.
MHR - Christian McCaffrey is likely out for the game. Would you prefer he play because as the son of Eddie he’s still a favorite among many in Broncos Country? Or not play because he makes Denver’s path to victory much harder? ;)
NoahStrawn57: Injuries in players absolutely suck - but if we’re playing a hurt team, I always say, “get better next week!”
MHR - A couple of former Broncos offensive linemen will be on the other side of the Broncos defense this week - center Matt Paradis and tackle Russell Okung. Do you wish either of these players were still Broncos? Will they be a disruption to the Broncos’ defensive line or will Shelby Harris school them like he has
NoahStrawn57: I’m completely fine with them on another team. Paradis hurt me when he walked away, but it seems like Carolina overpaid for what they got in return so I’m not too upset about that. As for Okung, I definitely wouldn’t mind having more depth at tackle. Regardless, I think that Shelby Harris is going to absolutely ball out this Sunday against the Panthers and that line.
MHR - Jeremy Chinn, the nephew of Hall-of-Fame safety Steve Atwater, has had a pretty good rookie year as a safety/linebacker for the Panthers, including two touchdowns last week against the Vikings. How much of a problem could he be for Noah Fant and all the Broncos’ receivers?
NoahStrawn57: He poses a massive threat. I don’t know very well the current corner situation, but with the amount of injuries/ high-risk contacts on the Panthers I think we’ll be able to scheme around him.
MHR - Jerry Jeudy was visibly frustrated on the field as well as on Twitter with his lack of targets last week. With a thinner Panthers defense this week, will he have a chance to have the kind of game he wants?
NoahStrawn57: I could see Jerry having a solid game. Nothing spectacular that I can foresee, but I would assume around six or so catches for, let’s say, 87 yards.
Still not worried about Jerry Jeudy. pic.twitter.com/xtUGFaLh13— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 8, 2020
MHR - Broncos could have both Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay healthy and ready to do damage. How important will their contributions be to helping Drew Lock have a solid game?
NoahStrawn57: Run. The. Ball. Run behind a pulling lineman to the right side. The running game has clearly been the key to success the past two weeks. So long as Denver can have a continuous run game and work play action off of it, I think we’ll have success.
MHR - Noah Fant wanted to be a bigger factor on third downs and last week he was a pretty good factor, leading the receiving targets in yards (though it was a low total in passing yards overall for the Broncos). How would you like to see him being used in play calls from Shurmur?
NoahStrawn57: Lure the defense into expecting the run and hit them with play action. Have Drew run off a boot and hit Noah in the flat. He’s been very solid at YAC this year.
MHR - Now to Drew Lock...are you buying or selling with him? In these final four games, what would you like to see from the quarterback that gives you confidence he can grow into a franchise QB? Or, is that a pipe dream?
NoahStrawn57: I want to see fewer turnovers and worthy play. I understand he’s a gunslinger and that he wants to go out there and wing it but he needs to understand that sometimes it’s okay to be a game manager. I want to see him take steps in understanding where to go with the ball instead of chucking a YOLO ball when things break down.
MHR - The offensive line has been helpful in the run game and protecting Lock. Does he need to trust it more and stay in the pocket, or would you prefer more bootlegs and play action from Lock and Shurmur?
NoahStrawn57: Drew absolutely needs to trust them more. I think that there can be a balance achieved for it. Bootlegs are nice, but you can’t always run them, so when it is just a straight drop back, he needs to stop drifting and sit still.
MHR - Name a player on offense and defense that has really stood out to you so far this season and why.
NoahStrawn57: Tim Patrick has been absolutely phenomenal this year. He came into a hard situation with Courtland Sutton out and has played very nice football. He acts almost as a safety blanket for Drew at times. My defensive player has been Josey Jewell. As an Iowa fan, I got to seem him tear it up for the Hawkeyes. It’s nice to see him playing well in spite of his physical limitations.
Of wide receivers with at least 50 targets, Tim Patrick is only 1 of 5 receivers who does not have a single drop this season. pic.twitter.com/lzCDhdQrai— PFF DEN Broncos (@PFF_Broncos) December 9, 2020
Stats for Drew Lock? 14/23 for 178 yards 2 touchdowns 1 Pick
Stats for each Broncos RB? Melvin Gordon, 17 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown; Phillip Lindsay, 8 carries for 67 yards
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each Broncos’ receiver? Jeudy, 6 for 87; Timmy P, 4 for 31 and a TD; Fant, 2 for 12; Hamler, 3 for 48 and a TD.
Longest FG for McManus? 49 yards
Number of sacks to Lock? 0
Number of sacks to Teddy Bridgewater? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Alexander Johnson
Who gets the most sacks? Malik Reed
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 pick. One fumble on a bad snap that the D recovers.
How many penalties will the refs get wrong? Just one really bad PI
Final Score? 24-21 good guys
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 50
Team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders. Born a Raider hater.
Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? Steelers. I live by a lot of Steelers fans, and I can’t stand it.
Team you love to beat? Oakland, errr.. uh Las Vegas.
Favorite time Broncos were the underdog and won? 11/25/18. That game against the Steelers was so fun.
Favorite game looking forward to still this season? Chargers. It’s gonna be fun to sweep them again.
Toughest game on the schedule? Raiders. Those games are always the toughest.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Bradley Chubb.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elvis Dumervil.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Lloyd Cushenbarry. As a center, I was really excited for that pick-up.
Superstitions on game day? Sitting position when watching the game.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Cholinsworth
Favorite sports cliche? “Game-winning field goals.”
Favorite sports movie? “The Waterboy”
How did you become a Broncos fan (and is the “57” in your name a tribute to Tom Jackson?)
I hate to say it, but I bandwagoned after Super Bowl 50. But I’ve stuck with the team through thick and thin, and I’m proud to say that.
For the name, my sophomore year of high school I was picking a jersey number for football, and when 58 was taken, I picked up 57. I wanted a number in the 50s and thought of lucky No. 7 and Elway for the other part.