Posts Tagged ‘Denver Broncos’

Aside from key divisional match-ups (Miami and N.Y. Jets) and the occasional trap game (Detroit, San Diego) New England has five regular season games to establish their 2014 “clout” among the other heavyweights of the NFL. Fortunately for New England three of these games are home in “friendly” Foxboro Stadium.

Week 5: 10/5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals – New England gets CB Brandon Browner back from suspension just in time for their week five contest against Cincinnati. Hopefully Browner will be ready to jump right in and and put the brakes on one of Cincinnati’s first round tight ends or end-zone threat Marvin Jones. Andy Dalton’s quarterback woes have been well documented and New England’s suddenly strong secondary matches up well with Cincinnati’s one-man (A.J. Green and friends) show in the passing game. New England’s greatest struggle may be containing running backs shifty Giovani Bernard and bruising Jeremy Hill. Cincinnati has a top offensive line (according to profootballfocus.com) and will put the Patriots front seven to the test.

Week 8: 10/26 vs. Chicago Bears – Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner will have an exciting match up against the top wide receiving duo in the NFL. Chicago’s defense looks to improve on their dreadful performance from 2013, Chicago’s one Achilles’ Heel are the safeties which Brady will look to expose with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Chicago may be choosing between 2013 underperformers Chris Conte, M.D. Jennings (a Green Bay castoff) and Brock Vereen a rookie to start at safety. New England will also need to contain ageless wonder Jared Allen from putting pressure on a 37 year old Tom Brady. The health of Rob Gronkowski will make a huge difference for New England’s ability to move the chains against Chicago’s improved defense.

Week 9: 11/2 vs. Denver Broncos – A rematch from 2013, New England got lucky waiting for Denver to make a special teams gaffe that cost them the game. New England ended up winning in classic New England fashion, by kicking their opponent to death at the very last second. A (presumably) healthy Revis and Browner should put up more of a fight than Aqib Talib was able to. Obviously pressuring Manning and taking away his favorite targets will be key to New England’s victory. On offense the Patriots will need to establish the run game against a fierce group of pass rushers and defensive backs (Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and rookie Bradley Roby). New England’s receiving corps won’t scare anybody unless one of their young talents can step in in year two (and if they can force Denver to honor their running game).

Week 11: 11/16 @ Indianapolis Colts – New England pummeled Indianapolis in the playoffs with battering ram LeGarrette Blount. New England will have to choose between fumble-ridden Stevan Ridley and inexperienced fullback James Develin to start a runner that weighs more than 205 lbs. Indianapolis has been inconsistent in the past but can hang with the best of the NFL when playing at the top of their game. Picking on a first time starter at SS for Indianapolis and looking for the screen pass to take advantage of an overly-aggressive pass rush may be New England’s best strategy in Indianapolis. Indy may not be so exposed against the run as they were last season with the addition of former Brown ILB D’Qwell Jackson.

On defense New England will need to contain an underrated group of wideouts in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, and rookie Donte Moncrief. Indianapolis also has a pair of young tight ends (Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen) and basketball standout Erik Swoope who could provide coverage mismatches for New England’s defense. Brandon Browner and the rest of the NE secondary will have their hands full trying to contain the group of tall athletes.

Week 13: 11/30 @ Green Bay Packers – Green Bay routinely puts a quality product on the field and 2014 looks to be no different. Green Bay has a host of young rookies who could develop quickly into downfield receiving threats. Davante Adams had video game receiving numbers at Fresno State with over twenty receiving touchdowns in 2013. Sure-handed Jared Abbrederis’s received praise for his finesse in route running and 6’4″ Jeff Janis could prove troublesome to cover. And then there’s Cal TE Richard Rodgers who could become Green Bay’s replacement for the oft-injured Jermichael Finley. New England has depth enough at secondary and has a fighting chance against a strong and dynamic Green Bay roster if they can (again) take advantage of a rookie safety in Ha Ha Clinton Dix and establish a running offense with Ridley and the gang.

 

New England’s chances of returning to the postseason (as usual) rely on their ability to stay healthy and for their young talent to make strides in the passing game. New England’s window of opportunity to hoist another Lombardi trophy is closing and Bill Belichick will have to devise his best schemes yet to stay ahead of the competition.

 

(I switched over from caffeine-free NO-Xplode to regular, caffeinated NO-Xplode this evening. I had a terrific workout. I also have no desire to sleep.)

Jacksonville goes to Seattle next week. Seattle scored more points in week one than Jacksonville has scored so far this season. Seattle just dismantled what was arguably thought to be the number one team in football 29 – 3 at home. And now they face the Jacksonville Jaguars being led by Chad Henne. Henne, bless his heart, has never had a season where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. This match-up is like a grizzly bear hunting a squirrel. A squirrel with no legs. Or brain. If any team could improve their quarterback situation by enlisting the services of Timothy Richard Tebow, Shahid Kahn’s Jaguars could. At least Tebow could put points on the board and butts in the seats.

Patriots and Jets

New England defeated the New York Jets 13-10 at Gillette Stadium. This was the most painful close game to watch within recent memory. Future hall of famer Tom Brady completed 19/39 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown with zero interceptions. The Patriots totalled 54 whole yards of rushing on the day. Clearly Rex Ryan’s crew still knows how to play defense as the Patriots struggled to move the ball in the forward direction all evening. Inclement weather and inexperienced receivers were likely two significant factors in the equation that was the Patriots offense last Thursday evening.

In news that shocked no one, Danny Amendola received a notable injury and will be out for at least a few months. Former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman has emerged as the Patriots leading receiver with the loss of Danny Amendola and the apparent shortage of Dobson and Thompkins in the offense so far. Edelman looks to be Brady’s top target for the foreseeable future until man-child superstar Rob Gronkowski returns from injury and Amendola waits to recover as well.

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis, and San Francisco

We’ll get to see Trent Richardson in a Colts uniform line up against the San Francisco 49ers defense after the 49ers suffered an embarrassing loss to division rivals Seattle Seahawks. Fans and pundits alike continue to heap praise on Indianapolis for making the trade happen. Richardson was a 1st round pick out an enormously talented Alabama team. Regardless, Richardson has a career average 3.5 yards per carry for Cleveland. This is an offensive line that starts Joe Thomas, one of the league’s most well respected left tackles. Rotoworlds’ Evan Silva ranks Cleveland’s O-line as sixth best in the league, pretty good considering how poor the talent around the line seems to operate. Footballoutsiders.com ranks Cleveland’s run blocking 10th overall in the league, suggesting Richardsons’ inability to break four yards per carry has more to do with his inexperience or inability to execute at a competitive level more so than his offensive line play. Indy’s pass-heavy offense could very well bring the best out in Richardson with the loosening up of defenses hesitant to give Luck to much room to work with, but the numbers suggest Irsay and the Colts likely gave up too much for the (arguably) overrated talent.

Getting back to San Francisco, the 49ers defense looks vulnerable with a new starting nose tackle after losing Ian Williams to injury in a controversial low cut made during the loss to Seattle last week. This coupled with a rash of injuries to starting rookie safety Eric Reid, starting DTs Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, the 49er’s mettle will be tested against a Colts offense that features one of the games’ young talents at quarterback and one of the league’s sturdiest power backs with Richardson weighing in at 5’9” and 227 lbs. That’s more weight per square inch than the immovable Maurice Jones Drew. Oh, and star outside linebacker Aldon Smith just got arrested for a DUI, though early reports state Smith is still expected to start this week for the 49ers’ game against the Colts. The matchup should be an intriguing one.

San Diego and Tennessee

You football geeks might want to pay attention to the not bad San Diego Chargers playing the not bad Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Tennessee has played above average defense with less than impressive offense. While San Diego is averaging exactly 30.5 points a game, on offense and allowed on defense. The ‘new’ Philip Rivers and the underrated Titans D ought to provide a compelling match up in week three.

Dave’s Upset prediction

Oakland over Denver. I realize my last prediction didn’t go as planned, and this one may not look too probable either, but let’s break down some details.

NFL powerhouses have a way of under-preparing in anticipation of facing scrappy, tired-of-losing teams who are likely ‘over-preparing.’ The unstoppable 2011 Green Bay Packers at 13-0 went to Arrowhead stadium against a struggling 5-8 Chiefs team that collected most of their wins in close games from other poor teams and lost in what became the biggest upset of the season. The 2011 Houston Texans, posting their first double-digit win season ever (10-6), still failed to defeat 1-13 Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, good enough for dead last (Houston’s record remains 0-11 at Lucas Oil Field to this day). I could bore you to death with more examples but I won’t.

Nfl.com’s produced a statistic claiming that Oakland is 1-8 on Monday Night Football since 2003. Not a particularly promising number for Oakland at first glance. However, when taking into account Oakland’s all time record against Denver is actually 60-45-2, this suggests Oakland is due for a win. Historically speaking, Oakland ‘usually’ beats Denver. And Oakland’s all time NFL record of 431-364-11 (according to pro-football-reference.com) suggests they are well overdue for a win if they’ve matched eight losses with only one win on Monday night football.

Let’s put away the numbers and look at the players. Oakland’s defense has actually performed admirably so far this season, allowing an average of fifteen points per game. Denver’s sky-high offense lost arguably their second most important offensive player in LT Ryan Clady to injury. Whether penciled in back up Chris Clark or recent signing Winston Justice steps in for Clady as Manning’s bodyguard, Oakland will have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of Clady’s absence having posted a (prior to Kansas City’s Thursday night abusing of Michael Vick) league-leading nine sacks in two games. Oakland’s dominance in running the ball between Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden could well provide them ample opportunity to work the clock and keep Manning and Co. off the field.

Denver hasn’t had to aggressively defend the run this season because, well, they’ve put up 90 points in two games, New York and Baltimore were throwing for their lives. If Oakland’s pass rush can disrupt the Broncos offense, the offense could take plenty of time to score and turn the tide at Sports Authority Field this Sunday.

Denver is heavily favored. They have the best offense in the league. They have home field advantage. What they don’t have is anything to prove to anyone. Surprise starting QB Terrelle Pryor, HC Dennis Allen, and that practically unknown defense do. For this reason I feel Oakland has as good a chance as anybody to put a check in the ‘W’ column after this Sunday is over.

In closing

This will be an exciting Sunday. Tom Brady faces off against Darrelle Revis again. Cleveland went from bad to worse by trading away Trent Richardson and will try to move the sticks with 31-year old Willis McGahee (that’s about 90 in regular human years) and will struggle to compete against a competent Minnesota team. The Arizona experiment continues with Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and head coach Bruce Arians against the New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh will struggle to prove they are still relevant against a sturdy Chicago defense. Football is exciting.

“There’s so much non pro football on Saturday. How will I fill the time?”

Go outside. Play with someone’s dog. Impersonate a Wal Mart employee until you are asked to “please leave.” Throw a dance party. In your car. At red lights. Put things in other people’s grocery carts at the grocery store. Take your parents through the drive-thru (My parents are hilarious at the drive-thru).

I am now going to lie down and pretend to sleep until I am asleep. Enjoy your weekend.