The Denver Broncos are arguably the most schizophrenic team in the NFL. They lose at home to the Oakland Raiders in the opening game of the season, with Kyle Orton throwing for 304 yards. Fast forward to week nine (between which time the hapless Broncos have only managed to eke out two wins). The Tebow-led Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum while passing for 124 yards.
If you can figure out what makes this team tick, please let me know because I sure as heck can't! Having said that, what fun would it be if I didn't at least try to make it look like I know what I'm talking about? So, with that in mind, here are eight bold predictions for the remainder of the Broncos' 2011-12 season.
Kyle Orton will not be on the bench by season's end! He won't be on the field either. At least not in a Broncos uniform.
The 2009 season saw the beleaguered Orton throw for 3,802 yards in his first season as the Broncos starting quarterback with a passer rating of 86.8. They finished second in the division and literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by missing the playoffs after a 6-0 start.
In his second season as starter, Orton threw for 3,653 yards with an 87.5 passer rating. They finished last in the division, managing only one win, and again watched the playoffs on TV like the rest of us. Orton can't and won't be leading the Broncos to the playoffs, and if the truth be told, the six or so fans in the slide photo are just about the only Orton fans left in Denver. They'll cut their losses and get whatever they can for him while there's something to be gained.
The Broncos will have at least one win against every team in the AFC West (I told you these were bold predictions). The Kansas City Chiefs are really struggling and got shellacked by the Tennessee Titans in week 9, scoring only 3 points. The Titans barely beat the Broncos at LP Field in week three in what turned out to be a 17-14 display of inept offenses.
Since football works pretty much like arithmetic, that means the Broncos should be able to win at least one game against the Chiefs, right? The Chargers are just slightly less schizophrenic than the Broncos, and so Tebow's running ability as well as his continually improving passing (I'm nothing if not optimistic) should make for a nail-biting win at Qualcomm Stadium in week 12. Gulp!
It's no secret that John Elway doesn't think that Tebow is the greatest quarterback he's ever seen, and judging from the photo, he might be thinking of loosening his wrist, strapping on the pads and taking the field in order to guarantee the Broncos another playoff appearance.
Seriously though, while Elway might not think of Tebow as a great quarterback, he certainly sees the other intangibles. He knows that Tebow has a great work ethic, oodles of potential and commands respect from the locker room. These are invaluable assets in a starting quarterback, and Elway is smart enough to know that Tebow can learn how to become a great quarterback.
In spite of all the hair-pulling antics and frustrations caused by Tebow's apparent struggles, I believe Elway will stick with him through the difficulties and finally discover the rewards of his patience.
Von Miller is the real deal! Just a rookie, he plays football like a five-year NFL veteran. His ability to read and rush the quarterback is far superior to that of almost any other player at the linebacker position. Add to that his pass-rushing speed, and Miller has the makings of an all-pro linebacker. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he's voted to the Pro Bowl in his first season (he certainly has my vote).
He currently leads the Broncos with 6.5 sacks. He's eighth overall in the NFL and has the third-highest sack total among linebackers, behind only Demarcus Ware (second overall) with 12 and LaMarr Woodley (fourth overall) with 9. My prediction: By season's end Miller will have the highest sack total among linebackers in the league.
John Fox will be the first coach since John Elway retired to lead the Broncos to the playoffs. There! I've said it and I feel better now!!
Quite frankly, the Broncos don't even remember what a playoff team looks like, and I'd hate to hazard a guess as to how many players in a Broncos jersey are still on the team that actually went to the playoffs. But that's all about to change. John Fox has the reputation of being a player's coach (all that means is that his locker room loves him) and seems to be quite adept at getting the best out of his players. I make bold as to say that he'll be the next Broncos coach to lead his team to the playoffs.
Every time I turn on ESPN, I hear nothing but stories about how Champ Bailey is getting "long-in-the-tooth" and how he no longer has the speed necessary to be one of the elite cornerbacks in the league. Now, I don't know what rock those analysts live under, but last I checked, Champ Bailey is tied for 24th in the NFL in interceptions and leads all Broncos. He's still the best player to ever play corner for the Orange and Blue and gets smarter as he gets older.
I boldly predict that Champ will be responsible for a crucial interception that will turn the Broncos' playoff hopes around this season. Remember you read it here first when you want to start handing out accolades for genius!
I either really need medical attention or I know what I'm talking about! The Denver Broncos will win at least six of their remaining eight games to make the playoffs. I know! I know! You'd like to point out to me that they have the Patriots, the Chargers, the Jets and the Bears still left on their schedule, but so what? All of these teams have had losses to teams no one expected them to lose to, so why can't the Broncos be one of those teams? While it may be wishful thinking, it's still a bold (or asinine) prediction, but since I'm writing the column, it stays.
I did say bold predictions, right? Well, this is the mother of all bold predictions!
Tim Tebow will lead the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in the 20011-12 season. What? Am I insane? No, just really, really, optimistic. I've been reading Steve Jobs' biography, and I'm struck by this notion that he somehow believed he could bend circumstances as well as people's will to whatever purpose he desired. Well, if there's any iota of truth to that concept, which Jobs' associates called his "Reality Distortion Field," I'm convinced Tebow has similar qualities. His sheer will to win is uncanny, and he somehow seems to infect those around him with the same condition. For this reason alone, I believe that the Broncos will make the playoffs for the first time since the Elway era, led by their polarizing quarterback. Or maybe my orange and blue glasses are just on too tight!