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Ultimate Fan: It will be up to the defense to get a win for the Broncos on Sunday

It’s the Raiders. And we hate the Raiders. So this team defense better beat the Raiders.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I have a confession, Broncos Country, Reading through this fabulous UFG to edit for publishing, I was sure we were going to have our first prediction for a loss. And I would have been right there with TheGueroLoco because between injuries, coaching and poor quarterbacking, a Broncos win over even the lowly Raiders feels like an impossibility.

But I was so wrong, and his scenario for his score prediction is so awesome, I’d almost recommend skipping down to that part right now and reading it.

But don’t do that! Because all the Q&A beforehand is also gold. Or really orange ;) Instead, toss all your concerns about this team out the window, grab a beer (a big one probably) and sit down to enjoy this read (and possibly follow TGL’s advice for popping in the SB50 DVD if this rivalry game doesn’t go as we’d like!

Week 11: Raiders at Broncos

MHR - Andrew Mason had an interesting poll after the game last week asking fans if they were feeling A) good B) angry C) frustrated or D) apathetic about the team. Which one are you and why? Which emotion do you think is the worst one for fans to have right now?
TheGueroLoco - B) Mad as hell.

I’m not old enough to remember the Broncos being this bad for this long. This is uncharted territory for me. Things were SUPPOSED to be different this year. Somehow, they are worse, and not just because the expectations were higher. The Broncos were 5-5 last year. A lot of that was the cream puff schedule, but we had a cream puff schedule at the beginning of this year too. I can’t believe what a train wreck the offense is. How is it possible for ANY offense to be worse than than a Teddy Bridgewater/Pat Shurmur offense? I don’t know, but we managed to pull it off!

The worst emotion is always apathy. That’s true of anything in life. All the other emotions will still invoke a response that can change an outcome. Being apathetic just means you stopped caring, and that is no place to be as a fan. Apathy is quitting! Don’t be a quitter!

MHR - Having three third-string offensive linemen, including a center who had never snapped a ball in an NFL game before, did not help offensive matters last week. Whether a “Tackle Bro” or not, what kind of investment does this team need to make in the offensive line moving forward? Which of the current players would you consider “keepers?”
TheGueroLoco - The offensive line needs massive investment. This will be priority No. 1 this offseason, much like Edge was last year. Cutting Graham Glasgow saves $11 million against the cap with a $3 million dead money charge. They should be able to get a high end guard for that. Paton seems to like to take a depth approach so maybe he brings 2 or 3 guys in with that money. They also need to use some of their high end draft capital on a lineman for once. I think Paton ultimately turns the Niners pick into more picks. He may even trade completely out of the first round to end up with multiple 2nd and 3rd rounders. Unless a top-10 or top-15 no-doubt-about-it-stud-at-a-premium-position falls into his lap there.

As far as the keepers, the only guys I see back next year are Garret Bolles and Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz is the best player on the line, which isn’t saying much. Bolles’ cap number is $18 million, which is not outrageous for a left tackle. A lot of people are calling for him to be cut (doable with his cap number). I always go back to - but who replaces him and what does it cost? A replacement will either not be as good, or cost more in terms of dollars and draft picks.

All the RTs are on one-year deals, and have continued the trend of RTs stealing money from the Denver Broncos by not actually playing for them. Dalton Risner has not been good since he was a rookie. Lloyd Cushenberry has been one of the worst starting centers in football the last three years. He should have been replaced a long time ago. His cap number is around $1 million, and he is still on his rookie deal, so they should bring him back as a back as a backup. I see Paton bringing in two interior guys and one tackle through free agency and one draft pick at each spot to compete for three starting jobs at LG, C, and RT.

MHR - Head coach Nathaniel Hackett often says “first and foremost it’s about accountability” - for him, for his coaches, for the players. Russell Wilson says playing better needs to start with him. It seems like everyone is saying the right platitudes but every week the offense completely sputters. If it has a good drive, it’s followed by three bad ones. Where is the accountability? Who/what has to change for this to work?
TheGueroLoco - It’s all just cliche and player/coach speak. There has been zero accountability for either of them so far. We all figured a future Hall of Fame QB and a head coach from the Shanahan tree would be the ultimate dream in Broncos Country. It has proved to be oil and water. Russ is too good, and too expensive, to be the guy who goes. The only way this changes is if Nathaniel (Can’t) Hackett is fired. He is too proud, or stubborn, to give up play calling. There really is not anyone on the staff that has proved they could do better. I get everyone loves Klint Kubiak, but just because he has the last name, does not mean he has the chops to take over. Yes, he called plays last year, but that team had Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, and they still struggled.

MHR - The three running backs have been only moderately successful since Javonte Williams’ injury. Is it possible for the Broncos to have decent run game with Melvin Gordon, Latavius Murray and Chase Edmonds and this current O-line configuration?
TheGueroLoco - Laurie, if that is your definition of moderately successful, I would hate to see what successful looks like, lol. If it was 2018, the trio of Murray, Gordon, and Mack would be the best three-headed monster in the league. Alas, in 2022, it is very likely the worst. I would not mind seeing Chase Edmonds get a little more run in the offense. He has the most burst of the four backs on the roster and might be able to break a run that goes over 10 yards.

With this stable of washed up backs, and a line decimated by injuries, they might as well stop running the ball at this point. Tom Compton starting at right tackle (he was the second best run blocker in the league last year) COULD be a game changer, where they run right all game with Murray. The only way I see forward with this offense is to stay in heavy personnel with Greg Dulcich and one of the Eric’s and run right to setup play action. I have full faith Hackett does neither, and stays in 3 wide, (even though three of our top four wideouts are out with injury) and lets our opponents tee off on Russ.

MHR - One of the few bright spots on the offense has been Greg Dulcich. Yet he doesn’t seem to be “game-planned” enough or “seen” enough. Would you like to have him more involved, and is this even possible?
TheGueroLoco - I love your optimism! Dulcich has had his moments, no doubt. Ultimately, he is a rookie that is struggling with the playbook, and how to run more precise routes. They really found something with KJ Hamler and Dulcich on the same side. I am of the belief this was because of Hamler, not Dulcich. With so many injuries, he is option No. 2 by default this week. So we absolutely need him more involved. The Raiders have struggled with injury and retirement in their ILB group. There COULD be something to exploit there this week, and I fully believe Hackett will completely fail to find it.

MHR - The once abundant wide receiver corps is dwindling fast with Courtland Sutton the remaining “starter/high draft pick” in the lineup. But Kendall Hinton and Jalen Virgil both came up with some big plays last week. Can this trio be formidable against the Raiders’ secondary?
TheGueroLoco - In a word, No. Look, I love Hall of Fame Quarterback Kendall Hinton. You need grinders like him on your team. However, he was undrafted for a reason. Both he and Virgil were not even the best WRs on their own teams in college, and they both were in mediocre football programs. I can’t believe we are at a point where we are relying on these two guys to be WR2 and WR3. Yet, here we are. The more I write this out, the more I realize that Hackett really has no good options this week. If the Raiders double Sutton all game, Russ might have nowhere to go.

MHR - Let’s talk defense because it’s good and the unit is fun to watch. Despite injuries, despite looming odds, despite Pro Bowlers on the other side of the line, this unit continues to impress. And even though it’s gotten beat at times, it has held up amazingly well when it counts, still being No. 1 in points allowed. Can the defense beat the Raiders and win the game for us?
TheGueroLoco - Thank you for stopping the agony of writing about our offense!!! The defense has been absolutely incredible at stopping the pass, and not allowing points. They have not been real great at forcing turnovers though. That changes Sunday, as we get multiple defensive TDs, which is the only path to victory at this point.

MHR - We don’t talk about the inside linebackers that much, but that’s probably the sign of a good thing. What has impressed you about Jonas Griffith (who, of course, is now out) and Josey Jewell?
TheGueroLoco - It’s sad that Griffith won’t play this weekend. At the end of last season I saw major flashes from hiim. He and Browning were all over the field making plays, and it got my hope up for Griffith. Overall, he has been ok, not great, but solid enough. I was hoping he would make a leap, because of his insane athleticism. Josey is the glue of this defense. He gets the calls in, gets everyone lined up, and stops the run. He isn’t as bad in coverage as some people think. Modern day ILBs are not vital to an elite defense, and having two above average guys in there really elevates the floor of this defense. I guess what has impressed me the most is just having really steady play from the position when needed.

MHR - Josh Jacobs gashed the defense first time around, but last week it contained Derrick Henry to 53 yards. Which way will the Raiders run game go this time - does Jacob run for nearly 150 yards again or is held to around 50?
TheGueroLoco - Ejiro Evero did exactly what I though he would last weekend. He used 4 IDLs with one edge guy to stack the front and stop King Henry. I think we see more of the same this week. If Browning and Randy Gregory can go, I think you’ll see him put PS2 on an Island with Adams and run a lot of 4-4 like they did last week. For some reason, Jacobs always has our number, even when the Raider o-line is trash. I will split the difference and say Jacobs ends up with 90ish yards because the Raiders don’t get the game flow they want.

MHR - Pat Surtain and Davante Adams did a lot of tussling a month ago. The mutual respect for the other’s talent is clear. Could this become one of the all-time great matchups between star players on rival teams? What do you like about Surtain’s game the most?
TheGueroLoco - For the record, Adams was a second round pick. It cost the Raiders a first to bring him in though, so I guess you could call him their first round pick last year. I see this rivalry being one of the best of all time, depending on how much gas Adams has left in the tank. He turns 30 in December, and that tends to be a wall for even the most elite of NFL players. I could see him having 2 more years of battles with PS2 after this year.

I have a confession to make about Surtain. I thought he was going to be, at his very best, a low end Pro Bowler/solid CB1. Not in my wildest dreams did I think in year two he would be arguably the best corner in football. What I like most about Surtain’s game is the way he completely shuts down the other team’s top wideout. So few teams have an elite second WR that it completely changes how Evero is able to game plan. He just needs to work on run support and his overall tackling. I would also love to see him start baiting QBs into thinking guys are open and then jumping routes, but that is really picking nits. He is already the best cover man in the NFL.

MHR - Baron Browning and Randy Gregory are possibilities for Sunday. How important are they to getting after Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs? And how important is it to get to the QB on Sunday?
TheGueroLoco - We need both of them to stop Jacobs more than we do to stop Carr. I don’t think getting to Carr is really that important. Every time he plays us, they focus on quick game and running with Jacobs to neutralize the pass rush. Of course, that was pre-McDummy, so who knows? It is always valuable to get pressure on the opposing QB, but with the way our secondary locks guys down, the pass rush will eventually get home anyway.

MHR - Russell Wilson’s contract means he’s going nowhere. But Nathaniel Hackett is certainly expendable. Without a dramatic turnaround, do you think he lasts as head coach into 2023? Would you like to see the new ownership start over at head coach or give Hackett another year to fix the offense make players execute better?
TheGueroLoco - Is this really even a debate at this point? If he isn’t gone by Black Monday (the sooner the better) Broncos fans are going to storm Dove Valley to tar and feather Paton and the Waltons!

Side note: how great is it that every time Raiders and Chiefs fans shop at Walmart, they help our team!

The only thing that could help Hackett keep his job is making the playoffs and being a top-5 offense for the rest of the season. I’m eternally optimistic about this team, but between the injuries and play calling, that ain’t happening.

His job may be on the line this weekend. You can’t lose to the Raiders twice, be this bad and keep your job. If we get embarrassed at home I think he and Outten are outta here (pun intended)!

MHR - Clearly a winning record and playoffs are pipe dreams at this point. So what needs to happen in the remaining eight games that could be considered a relative success for the second half of the season?
TheGueroLoco - You said relative, so four wins I guess? That would be relatively better than three in the first half of the season. Also, beat each division rival at least once. We HAVE to win tomorrow. Losing this much to the Raiders over the last three years is unacceptable. We are due for a win over the Chiefs, and we always beat the Chargers once. Sneak in a fourth win against one of the three NFC bottom dwellers, and at least we can say we were not worse than last year. Plus that keeps the Seachickens from getting a top 10 pick. This season will still be a colossal failure, but at least we will have beaten the Chiefs!

Predictions

Stats for RUSSELL “WILL WE EVER RIDE” WILSON? 20/30, 250 yds, 1 TD & 0 INT

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon 11 for 30; Murray 8 for 37; Edmonds 4 for 37 (Hackett gives them the ball from least effective to most effective).

Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Sutton 5 for 70, 1 TD; Hinton 7 for 52; Dulcich 4 for 67. Russ spreads the love for the rest of it.

Longest FG for McManus? 52 yards

Number of sacks to Derek Carr? 2

Broncos player with the most tackles? Alex Singleton is starting and it ends up being him when he does.

Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Dre’Mont Jones

Who gets the most sacks? Dre’Mont Jones gets one, and PS2 gets one on his first CB blitz this year.

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 3 INT’s (2 from Surtain, 1 from Simmons) Surtain forces a fumble on the sack and Dre’Mont gets a big man TD!

How many times will you curse when they show McDaniels on the TV screen? EVERY DAMN TIME

Will Hackett outlast McDaniels’ tenure in Denver ? No, only because we were foolish enough to give McDummy a 2nd season

Final Score? Defense gets two defensive TDs, the Offense scrounges up its usual 13. 27-3 for the good guys! McDummy has Carlson kick a 60-yarder at the buzzer to avoid getting shutout in his return to Mile High.

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos win ever? It should be Super Bowl XXXII because that was the first one, but for me it was Super Bowl 50. Lost my mind during that game. In fact, every time we lose to a division rival, I am going to rewatch it!

Favorite Peyton Manning win? Since I already said SB 50 I will go with the 2015 AFC Championship when Von and Ware almost murdered Tom Brady.

Favorite John Elway win? SB XXXII. I’ll never forget the helicopter.

Favorite Russell Wilson win? The one against the Raiders on Sunday!

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders always and forever.

Coach you despise most in the NFL? McDummy hands down, and there isn’t even a close second. I truly believe Mark Davis is dumb enough to give him a second season to completely burn his franchise to the ground. Thank God Mr. B got him out just before everything was gone.

Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC (outside AFC West)? Patriots

NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? I really like the Rams for no good reason.

NFC team you’d want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? The Cowboys. I am a Broncos fan in Texas. Every time I point out it has been 27 years since they beat us, they bring up the Super Bowl from the 70s. If I could hang that over their heads till the day I die, it would be glorious!

Favorite game looking forward to this season? This one, which is why I wanted to wrtie the UFG!!!

Toughest game left on the schedule? KC in KC

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? I am really starting to fall for PS2

Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Von Miller, no doubt about it!

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Russ is new, but he is driving me nuts right now. I’ll go with Randy Gregory. Even though he is hurt, his combination of size, speed and physicality is unlike anything I have seen on a football field. He is fun to watch.

Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? I eat everything, so whatever is in front of me!

Favorite game analyst/commentator? Tony Romo (You did not ask but Cris Collinsworth is the current anti-Romo. He is so bad I have to watch SNF with the sound off).

Which sports cliche best describes the Broncos? Not really sure I can think of any words, let alone a cliche to describe this team.

If YOU were giving a tour of the Ring of Fame at Mile High, which players would you make sure to highlight in your talk? Floyd Little saved the franchise, John Elway became the franchise. It starts there. Then I would take them through Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, and Terrell Davis because they were the heroes of my youth. Also, have to showoff Steve Atwater and show “The Hit” on the scoreboard!

How did you become a Broncos fan?

It was a cold December day in 1984 in The Rocky Mountains, and my mom went into labor. Our little town did not have a labor and delivery ward, so they typically sent the moms to the next county to give birth. I wasn’t waiting, so our family doctor had to deliver me. When he slapped me on the butt, I looked at him and said “that Elway kid is something, ain’t he?” The nurses were shocked when they drew my blood and it came out orange. The lab tech took one look at it and said “this one is a Broncos fan for life!”

Poll

This poll question will definitely show your "era" of fandom. Which AFC West rival do you hate more?

  • 76%
    Raiders
    (42 votes)
  • 23%
    Chiefs
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Chargers
    (0 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now