Invesco Field came in at No. 12.
Much to the chagrin of we Broncos fans, Oakland Coliseum (10th) and Arrowhead Stadium (4th) did make the top-ten list.
The ESPN article does note that “the old Mile High Stadium, a fixture in Denver from 1948 until 2001, might have placed first on such a list. The new one showed up on only four of eight ballots to rank 12th.”
ESPN’s Bill Williamson, who blogs on the AFC West, did not rank Invesco at all. He defends his non-vote by pointing out that “the magic has left.”
“It's strange because the air is just as thin as it used to be, but the Broncos have lost their home-field edge. This is a team that lost at home by 45 points last year. It doesn’t belong anywhere near this list right now."
Yes, the Broncos have lost their edge at Mile High, and losing to the Raiders in a blow-out in Denver last season was the final straw.
The problem started with the move to the new stadium, but was exacerbated in the final years of the Shanahan era, and the Josh McDaniels experiment? Well he nearly crushed any Mile High mystique still remaining in his thankfully short tenure here in Denver.
How then do we get back that mystique and put Invesco back into the top ten?
This much we know: the air will be thin, the altitude will be high, and the fans here in Denver, well, they will always be amazing.
This much we can guess: Invesco Field at Mile High will be a nightmare venue for opposing teams if Tim Tebow is magical and the Broncos defense is masterful. That recipe, plus 60,000-plus screaming fans in orange and blue, should be the plan enacted starting in 2011.
Think about it.
You know that vibe here in Denver when we learned that Josh McDaniels had been canned, Kyle Orton had been benched (watching him throw passes into the dirt the week before against St. Louis had me at my breaking point), and Tim Tebow had been...released?
As in, “release the Tebow!”
That vibe, that feeling, was hard to quantify.
It didn’t show up in the stats, but it showed up in the stands.
Broncos fans had grown despondent under the crushing McDaniels regime, but it felt like a huge burden had been lifted, and we could all finally enjoy football again.
It wasn’t about the head coach, videotaping scandals or what Peyton Hillis was doing in Cleveland.
It was about the Broncos again, and Tebow made the transition very enjoyable to watch.
The Tebow debate is certainly a dead horse that has been dug up and beaten over and over again, so suffice it to say that Tebow, not Orton, has a greater chance of bringing back the Mile High mystique to Denver.
Imagine Oakland players looking deflated in Week 1 after Tebow scrambles for a 20-yard dagger in the fourth quarter. It’s really not that hard to imagine. Special players make special plays.
Point No. 2. The Broncos will make their opponents fear them again in the Mile High city.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen wants others teams to fear the Denver Broncos. And if you think about it, a roster that includes Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams, Von Miller, Rahim Moore and Brian Dawkins could be very frightening.
“If the offense doesn’t fear you then you’re never going to be considered a great defensive team,” Allen told CBS Denver. “To be great on defense you’ve got to be feared, and the only way you can be feared is if you play with a violence and passion about you and play at a tempo that the other teams are unwilling or unable to match.”
Violence and passion? When’s the last time those words have been mentioned in the same sentence as Denver Broncos defense?
Allen and head coach John Fox bring a new defensive mentality to the Broncos, and have begun compiling the kind of players that reflect their philosophy of speed, athleticism, and the kind of spectacular play that made the Saints, Allen’s former gig, a top defensive team in the NFL.
So, does it boil down to Tim Tebow and Von Miller?
Can these two players help make Invesco a top ten or top five venue that opponents dread making a trip to?
If Tebow dazzles, and Miller and his teammates terrorize, then it’s really not far-fecthed at all.