With a disappointing 2009 season in the bag for the Denver Broncos, one thing is certain about playing at 5,280 feet above sea level: it's no longer an obstacle for opponents.
Growing up in Oklahoma, I remember watching the Broncos on television about every two weeks, knowing for sure that if they were playing in Denver, then you might as well hand them the victory ahead of time. Living in Colorado the past three years for school, I no longer bring that expectation heading into kickoff on Sundays.
The Denver Broncos moved into INVESCO Field at Mile High in 2001. From 2001 through 2005, Denver had a combined home record of 32-9 during the regular season, which included a perfect mark of 8-0 in '05. Since then things haven't been the same.
Since 2006, the Broncos have had a home record of 17-15, only once finishing better than .500 at Mile High.
What happened to that advantage?
This year against divisional opponents (San Diego, Oakland and Kansas City), Denver was 3-0 when on the road. At home? An ugly 0-3.
Against the same opponents while traveling, the Broncos outscored their AFC West foes 101-39. At INVESCO— again, in divisional play— Denver was outscored 96-46.
I know that INVESCO isn't quite as hostile as the old Mile High Stadium was, but why is it that while going 17-15 at home since 2006, the Broncos have also gone 15-17 on the road? While it's not great, it's by no means bad, there are teams who have played much worse away from their friendly confines over the past four seasons.
Is Mile High getting soft, or is the Denver Broncos franchise simply becoming mediocre?