Thus far, the NFL season has been full of speculation, disappointment, and many surprises. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises has been the emergence of the Denver Broncos as contenders. Jay Cutler and Mike Shanahan have together resurrected this team.
As it sits right now, these are Denver's standings:
Standings: 1st in the AFC West
Passing Offense: 320.5 yards per game (2nd overall)
Rushing Offense: 143.0 yards per game (10th overall)
Overall Offense: 463.5 yards a game (1st)
Defense: 381.5 yards allowed per game (27th overall)
Denver fans and experts are predicting big things for this Broncos team, and with an explosive offense like that, it's hard not to. First in the AFC West and a playoff berth seems to be almost assured thus far, especially with the kind of schedule they have this year.
I'll break down how I think their season will play out:
New Orleans: W 37-30
This Saints' secondary is far too suspect to stop Cannon Cutler and his Merry Men.
Kansas City: W 42-3
Kansas lost to Oakland, enough said. This game should give the Denver D a chance to emerge and get some experience against a non-explosive offense.
Tampa Bay: W 24-10
The Bucs actually have a defense, so they might actually limit the Broncos to their first score of under 30 this season. I just don't see a Griese-led offense outscoring Denver.
Jacksonville: W 35-20
This game depends on how the Jaguars respond to a crushing 0-2 start. If their running game can actually gain some traction, this may just as easily be an L instead of a W. Jacksonville's only hope of winning boils down to careful clock control and keeping Cutler sidelined.
New England: L 24-23
New England actually has a defense, one that may actually serve to halter the Broncos just enough to allow the offense to squeak out a win. If Denver's D doesn't step up before this game, you can't really expect them to stop an offense that ranked 1st last year. I realize Cassel is no Brady, but Moss, Welker and Maroney are still on the field and the Pats' O line will keep their QB relatively safe.
Miami: W 43-7
The Dolphins still haven't improved enough to be anywhere near a threat.
Cleveland: W 30-13
As long as Derek Anderson sits at QB and Romeo Crennel is the head coach, the Browns won't be scoring any impressive wins this year.
Atlanta: W 27-6
Rookie QB plus a suspect defense = loss, sorry Atlanta
Oakland: W 35-21
I suspect McFadden will by now have emerged as a serious threat. Oakland will play these guys even harder then last time because of their Week One game.
NY Jets: W 21-15
News flash—the NY Jets are an 8-8 team at best this year. More conservative play calling and a Brett Favre turnover will lead to a Denver win.
Kansas City: W 38-14
Not as bad as their first meeting, but Kansas is still the bottom of the AFC West barrel.
Carolina: L 30-27
The Panthers are definitely in the top tier of the NFC this year and their defense is solid. A possible loss here.
Buffalo: L 24-21
The playoffs are easily assured at this point, and you probably won't see Denver starting everyone in this game. Buffalo is a solid team this year and they may be playing for a playoff spot, advantage the Bills.
San Diego: L 33-24
Another team that might be trying to bully it's way into the playoffs, San Diego will play this game with emotion. Not to mention their suspect loss in Week Two....
Regular Season Record: 12-4, with a one or two win/loss margin error.
Why I Think They Will Lose in the Playoffs:
Though Coach Shanahan has plenty of playoff experience, Cutler and the team itself does not. Defense wins championships, and this team's isn't impressive and will give up WAY too many big plays down the field. Offense will only carry you so far.
Over the next couple of years this team should emerge as a consistent contender. The Super Bowl may come soon, but I just don't see it happening this year.