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Archive for November, 2008

Week Ten Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 7, 2008

Obviously we’re off to a flying start this week after being incorrect on the Thursday night game, but as I’ve said I am ecstatic that I was wrong and the Broncos didn’t lose.  Before we get to the picks, bad news for the Broncos today, as Ryan Torain is done for the year with a torn ACL.  Is there anyone out there healthy enough to play running back?  Anyone?  We’ll delve more into the Broncos’ running back quandry next week, but in the meantime, on to the picks. 

Last Week: 8-6 (.571)   Season: 79-50 (.612)

– Patriots over Bills: This should be a great game.  Both teams are coming off close losses, and both are in the midst of a three way tie for the division lead.  The Bills will be fired up after losing two division games in a row, but I pick New England mainly because they always seem to win every time I give up on them.  Bill Belichick has done maybe the best coaching job of his career this season, and the Patriots should have enough in the tank to win this big division game at home.  Trent Edwards has not played well on the road, while Matt Cassel has done more than a serviceable job for the Patriots, especially at Gillette Stadium.  In a close game like this, it will be the quarterback play that will make the difference and I actually give the nod to Cassel in this one.  Keep in mind these teams meet in Buffalo the last week of the season, and that could be for the AFC East title. 

– Dolphins over Seahawks: This definitely has the look of a mismatch.  The Dolphins have to qualify as one of the league’s top surprises with a 4-4 record at the midway point following a 1-15 effort last season.  Miami’s run defense has done a superb job all season, especially last week when they held the Broncos to just 14 yards rushing.  This spells bad news for Seattle, which has to start Seneca Wallace at quarterback for one more week while Matt Hasselbeck recovers from injury.  The Dolphins are believing that they are a contender, while the Seahawks are on their way to what is easily the worst season in the Mike Holmgren era.  Couple that with the fact Miami is at home, and you have what should be an easy Dolphins victory.   This is my eliminator pick this week mainly because the Seahawks have been so atrocious. 

– Jets over Rams: New York is also involved in the three way tie for the AFC East lead, and they should be able to enjoy an easy home win in this one.  The Rams showed life the first few games of the Jim Haslett era, but they have very quickly come back to Earth.  Steven Jackson is benched for the time being because Haslett doesn’t believe he’s giving full effort, and the Rams defense got exposed big time last week in the loss to Arizona.  The Jets have quietly won three of their past four games, including a surprising road win last week in Buffalo.  Even if Brett Favre goes into his throwing gift interceptions mode, the Rams won’t have enough horses to keep up in this one.  If nothing else, the Jets should be able to get a big rushing day from Thomas Jones.

– Ravens over Texans: This game was originally scheduled to be played in week two, but was moved due to Hurricane Ike.  Houston has come back to Earth after a scorching three week period after a loss to Minnesota last week and the injury to quarterback Matt Schaub.  This plays right into Baltimore’s hands: backup QB (Sage Rosenfels) versus the always tough Ravens defense.  Houston still has enough weapons in the passing game that they’ll be able to move the ball some, but the Ravens are quickly proving that they deserve to be in the playoff mix.  Baltimore’s defense is quickly regaining its reputation as one of the league’s best, and that has allowed them to be competitive in every game this season, even on the road.  The Ravens get the road win to keep Pittsburgh within sight in the AFC North.

– Steelers over Colts: There is a question mark for Pittsburgh at quarterback: will it be Ben Roethlisberger or Byron Leftwich?  Either way, the Steelers are in good shape because Willie Parker is back to anchor the running game, and Leftwich really played very well last week in the win over the Redskins.  The Colts gave a gutsy performance in their win over New England last week, but Heinz Field is always a tough place to play, and Peyton Manning and company have yet to give two solid performances in a row this year.  The Steelers defense will not allow the Colts receivers to get separation, nor will they allow a hobbled Joseph Addai to have a big day.  Indianapolis still has more than enough talent to make a run for a playoff spot, but they face too tall of an order in this one.  Pittsburgh gets the home win in one of the better games of the week.

– Jaguars over Lions: I have once again fallen into the trap of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they can’t possibly fall flat on their faces in this one can they?  Jacksonville is an awful 3-5 after a surprise loss in Cincinnati last week, which means the Jaguars are at the very least a contender for most disappointing team this season.  My preseason AFC Super Bowl pick is really letting me down in more ways than one, but I still believe they are not out of it yet.  David Garrard has actually done a superb job despite the record, but the problem for the Jaguars has been their inability to run the ball.  That should change against a Detroit defense that has been gashed by everyone.  Daunte Culpepper gets the start for the Lions after being signed just last week, so it will be interesting to see how he plays.  I think the Jaguars will find a way to win this one on the road, but I have admit an upset is possible if Culpepper plays well.  If Jacksonville loses this one, it will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my preseason predictions are good for nothing but kindling, but at least that would put me in good company.

– Bears over Titans: I smell an upset here, mainly because the Titans have won a ton of close games this season, and odds are that one of them will go the other way at some point.  I do put an asterisk by it in the sense that it is unknown whether Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman will get the start for Chicago.  In either case, the Bears will be extremely fired up for this one at Soldier Field, especially since they have an opportunity to extend their lead in the NFC North.  Tennessee has played great defensively, but Chicago’s defense has also forced a ton of turnovers.  If the Bears can win the turnover battle, which is not farfetched by any means as aggressive as their defense is, they will have an opportunity to give their offense a short field, which could easily make the difference in the game.  In typcial Tennessee fashion, the game will once again come down to the wire, but a hunch says the Soldier Field crowd sways the Bears to their biggest win of the year.

– Panthers over Raiders: This will be one of the blowouts of the week.  Carolina is fresh off a bye, and their offense is really clicking with Jake Delhomme and company putting up points.  Oakland is in shambles (what else is new) after releasing big ticket free agent signee DeAngleo Hall and getting shut out at home last week by Atlanta.  The Panthers have too many weapons for the Raiders to contain, especially now that Hall is gone.  Carolina is in position for a bye right now in the NFC playoff picture, and they know they have to keep winning to maintain it.  If I hadn’t already used the Panthers in my eliminator pool, I would be sure to use them here.  Carolina wins big. 

– Chargers over Chiefs: San Diego is also coming off a bye, and is still very much in play in the AFC West despite a 3-5 record.  Even after Denver’s win over Cleveland last night, the Chargers are just a game and a half back in the division with a very friendly schedule awaiting down the stretch.  San Diego for whatever reason has yet to consistently put anything together, but they have now had the bye week to figure it out.  They do get a Chiefs team that has really shown improvement and signs of life the last two games, but Kansas City has still not been able to win.  The Chiefs may well win another game or two before the season is finished, but it won’t come here.  San Diego wins easily at home to kick off their post-bye schedule.

– Vikings over Packers: I really went back and forth on this one, and in the end you might as well flip a coin.  This is a really intense division rivalry, and both teams have been up and down this season.  Both teams have experienced success offensively in recent weeks, and both have outstanding running games, so this has the potential to be a shootout.  The Packers won the first meeting at Lambeau Field in week one, but that was with Tarvaris Jackson under center for Minnesota.  Gus Frerotte has done an admirable job in the that role for the Vikings, and they have a lot of momentum after a home win against Houston last week.  The Metrodome will be rocking for this one, and that will ultimately prove to be the difference in this one as Minnesota jumps back into the NFC North race.

– Falcons over Saints: This game has the potential to be a shootout too.  New Orleans will be without Reggie Bush for one more week, which means the onus will be on Drew Brees and the passing game to move the ball, which they have been very effective doing all year.  The Saints are also coming off a bye, which has helped them recover from the London trip.  The Falcons have been a tremendous surprise at 5-3, and Matt Ryan is playing not only well for a rookie, but he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season (and a borderline must start in fantasy the way he keeps improving).  Atlanta will have no trouble scoring points at home in the Georgia Dome, and they will pull out a narrow win at home in what should be a very entertaining game.   

– Eagles over Giants: The Sunday night game will be dynamite.  Not only is this one of the most intense rivalries in football, but this game matches two of the top teams in the NFL.  The Eagles are right in the thick of the NFC race even though they’ve battled numerous injuries at virtually every position.  Now that they are starting to get healthy, they are starting to show how good they can be.  The Giants are of course the defending champs and have been very tough on the road, including their win two weeks ago in Pittsburgh.  The Giants have to absolutely be considered at the very least in the top 2 or 3 teams in the league right now, and probably are the top team considering they are the defending champs, but a hunch says Philadelphia will get a tremendous lift from a raucous crowd that is still on cloud nine from the Phillies’ World Series victory.  Philadelphia wins what could out to be one of the best games of the season, not just the week.  Regardless of how this one turns out, both teams will be right in the thick of everything at the end.

– Cardinals over 49ers: It has to be a sign of the apocalypse to see the Arizona Cardinals hosting a Monday night game doesn’t it?  Or is it more of a shock that they have a commanding lead in the NFC West, and should pummel poor San Francisco in this one?  The 49ers have had the bye week to regroup, and they do have one of the league’s top running backs in Frank Gore, but that’s about all they have going for them.  No doubt interim coach Mike Singletary is intense, but no amount of intensity will be able to help the Niners stop Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin from running wild.  Remember when it was a question whether it would be Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart under center for the Cardinals this year?  That seems like ancient history.  The Cardinals with a win would be 6-3 and clearly on track to host a playoff game, no that would have to be a sign of the apocalypse.  Arizona wins this one so easily that viewers will flip away by the third quarter.

BYE: Bengals, Cowboys, Redskins, Buccaneers – these are the last of the byes this season

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I’m Glad I was Wrong

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 7, 2008

I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.  I honestly didn’t believe the Broncos had much of a chance to win in Cleveland on a short week going into the game, let alone when they trailed 23-10 in the second half, missing ALL of their tailbacks due to injury, struggling to get pressure on Brady Quinn, and reverting to giving up big plays in the running game.  What resulted is one of most exciting games I have ever seen, maybe exciting enough to go in the top five, but for sure in the top ten.  I’m not sure what I’m most excited about.  I could give accolades to Jay Cutler for his 447 yard, three touchdown effort that ranks third in Broncos history.  (Trivia question: can you name the two quarterbacks who posted the highest single game yardage efforts?  Hint: neither one is John Elway.  The answer is at the end).  I could praise Eddie Royal for his 164 yard effort, including a 93 yard TD that completely changed the momentum, that resulted in a Broncos rookie record for reception yards in a game.  I could talk about Brandon Marshall, who stepped big with the clinching touchdown, or Tony Scheffler, who had 92 yards receiving despite playing with a groin so sore he didn’t think he was going to play when conducting his own pregame interview on the Broncos radio network.  There’s also Ryan Torain, who ran hard before injuring his knee in the second quarter, and even Selvin Young, who tried so hard to tough it out when he was literally the last running back standing, even though he himself was nursing a groin injury such that Mike Shanahan was hoping not to have to use him.  Even the much maligned defense stepped up when it mattered, forcing a key fourth quarter fumble and coming up with the fourth down stop to preserve the win at the end.  

Truth is, everyone mentioned played a critical role in this win for the Broncos.  I realize that sounds cliche, but it’s the only way they could have come back and won a game where everything seemed lost.  How many teams do you know that would be even remotely effective offensively when they’re down to their fifth running back?  On that note, let’s not forget about Peyton Hillis, who kept the game alive with a critical conversion on fourth and 1 with the Broncos trailing 30-27 and time rapidly ticking away.  This is type of clutch play the Broncos have been missing the past few weeks.  It is this type of unsung play, which won’t get a lot of notice in the box score, that separates winners from losers.  A key play for sure, one that the Broncos couldn’t have won without, and one that wouldn’t have had a chance to happen at all if not for a real gutsy play much earlier in the game.  

It is amazing in a way that the Broncos were able to keep it together.  They had lost four of their past five, they continued to lose guys to injury, they had no running backs left, they were down by 13 on the road, and they had no momentum against a Browns team that was starting to look like it was getting new life on a lost season.  Even looking at the body language of the players on the sideline, it didn’t look like the Broncos were going to come back.  Somehow, the defense was able to force a punt, a victory in itself for a unit that was missing several of its top players and had struggled to stop the Browns most of the night.  That’s when Jay Cutler proved that he has the gusto to be a great quarterback in the NFL.  The Broncos faced the prospect of starting their drive at their own 7 yard line (Does this evoke memories of The Drive anyone?).  Most teams are scared to take a shot down the field when they’re backed up that deep, but Cutler took the chance.  Despite a dropback that practically took him to his own goal line, he launched a perfect strike down the sideline to Royal, who caught it perfect stride, left a gambling defensive back grasping for air, and was off to the races.  This play changed the momentum so dramatically that the body language on each respective sideline changed.  The Browns players were the ones that had looks of shock of despair, and the Broncos players were rejuvenated, and it showed in their play the rest of the night.  Plays like the 93 yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Royal can define a season, and in this case it may have quite literally saved the Broncos season in more ways than one.

It should be noted that not only did Cutler show a lot of guts to make that throw in that situation and field position, but Mike Shanahan and his staff should be credited for calling that play in that situation.  Maybe they would have run the ball if Torain or Young was healthy enough to do so, and we’ll probably never know for sure, but in any case, Shanahan deserves credit for rolling the dice and dialing deep when most coaches would go the safe route.  There are a lot of Broncos fans calling for Shanahan’s head, mainly because the Broncos have won just one playoff game since John Elway’s retirement.  I have long argued that the Broncos would never have won a Super Bowl in the first place if not for Shanahan, and it is easy to forget that he has won 150 career games, no small achievement.  If Shanahan were to leave the Broncos, odds are your team would be among the first in line to hire him.  It is easy to forget that Shanahan is not the one on the field turning it over or getting beat deep.  I challenge you to tell me another coach that could have kept his team together in a situation like the Broncos had in Cleveland, and of course there are others, but tell me someone out there and available who would be better than Shanahan.  The answer is no one.  

I believe the Broncos saw a very impressive glimpse into their future tonight.  When clicking, the offense is as good as any in the NFL right now, and that’s with most of the key players having three years or less experience in the league.  As they continue to play together and mature together, things will only get better.  Jay Cutler is indeed the real deal, having shown ability to lead his team from behind.  A win like this not only gives a team hope, but it gives them confidence even when things aren’t going well.  Frankly, things didn’t go well tonight for Denver for the most part for three quarters, but when push came to shove, they managed to pull a win out of nowhere.  Now, they have a game and a half lead over San Diego in the AFC West, and suddenly the next game at Atlanta doesn’t appear to be the guaranteed loss it seemed to be 24 hours ago.  (Side note: the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter told us tonight that Champ Bailey will play against Atlanta.  If that’s true, it will be another huge boost for the Broncos).  Suddenly, the Broncos actually winning the AFC West with an actual winning record doesn’t seem so impossible. Sure, the defense could still use some work, but they stepped up when it counted, and all things considered continue to show improvement.  Let’s not forget also the offensive line has only allowed five sacks this year, which is truly amazing especially with a rookie left tackle (Ryan Clady) who has been nothing less than terrific and doesn’t get a lot of press for it.  It’s really amazing how one game can really change your picture on things.  There is still obviously a lot of season left, but one thing is for sure: the Broncos are not left for dead yet, and will be a major player in the AFC race.

Trivia answer: Jake Plummer (499 yards vs. Atlanta in 2004), and Gus Frerrote (462 yards vs. San Diego in 2000).

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Broncos Football on a THURSDAY???

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 6, 2008

I have to admit I can never get used to it when the Broncos, or any other NFL team, plays a Thursday game.  This is the fourth consecutive year the Broncos have drawn a Thursday contest (including two Thanksgiving Day games) and I still can’t get used to it.  I actually applaud the concept of getting more games on television for the fans, although I’m not sure NFL Network counts as a national broadcast at this point due to the fact numerous households still don’t get the channel.  At any rate, the Broncos face a very difficult task for numerous reasons: the short week, the fact they’re coming off a tough loss, the numerous injuries on both sides of the ball, and the travel on such a short timetable (to the eastern time zone to boot, where no pacific or mountain time zone team has won a game this season).  If that’s not enough, they get what is sure to be a raucous crowd at Cleveland Browns Stadium that will be excited for the debut of Brady Quinn.

My pick for the game is coming in a moment, but first a reminder that this is the first of a slate of Thursday NFL games every week for the rest of the season, so remember this if you are in an eliminator pool, have a fantasy lineup that needs to be set before the first kick, or even if you have players that may be involved in the game that you need to make a decision on.  In this space, I will offer a pick for each Thursday game before it kicks off, and then will follow up with the rest of the picks on Friday as normal.  So remember to look for the rest of my picks for week 10 on Friday, along with a recap of the Broncos and Browns.  

This is a very difficult game to pick because both teams are a mess.  The Broncos have no choice but to start Ryan Torain at tailback because no one else is left.  Andre Hall and Michael Pittman were placed on injured reserve this week, and Selvin Young won’t be 100 percent even if he plays.  The coaches do love Torain, but he didn’t look up to speed against Miami.  The Broncos also will likely still be without Tony Scheffler, who will take the extended time before the next game to try and get back in the lineup.  His absence has had a real adverse effect on the passing game.  Meanwhile, Denver’s defense took another hit with the news that leading tackler D.J. Williams will be out at least a month with a torn MCL.  This means no Williams and no Bailey (either of them).  Not to mention, the Broncos are sitting on a league worst minus 11 turnover margin in their past five games.  It can be argued that the Broncos are leading their division, but that carries no weight whatsoever for a team that has lost four of its past five games.  It actually came as a surprise to me to read today that the Broncos are just 20-20 in their past 40 games, and that frankly isn’t acceptable for us in Broncos Country. 

The Browns have finally made the long overdue decision to yank Derek Anderson in favor of Brady Quinn.  This is a move I have advocated for since the offseason, when Cleveland made the surprising decision to offer Anderson a 3 year $24 million contract, even though they had made a big investment in Quinn by making him their first round pick in 2007.  This season Anderson has been anything but great, ranking dead last among starting quarterbacks with a terrible 49.8 completion percentage.  While Anderson has been dreadful at times, Quinn is of course an unknown, having made just one appearance in mop up duty last year.  The timing of the decision to make the move to Quinn with such a short week to prepare also seems a little odd.  The Browns are coming off a loss to Baltimore in which they blew a 27-13 second half lead and watched the Ravens score 20 unanswered points to end the game.  Cleveland’s defense has struggled against the run this year, having given up 154 yards to rookie Ray Rice last week, allowing him to average 7.3 yards a carry.  The Browns’ 3-5 start is not what they were hoping for after knocking on the door to the playoff party last season.

Sometimes when you have two struggling teams going at it, it actually turns out to be a good game, and that could be the case here.  I really hope I’m wrong, but I think this game shapes up to be bad news for the Broncos in more ways than one.  I do think the Broncos will be able to run better than they did against Miami, and I also think Jay Cutler and the passing game will give a better effort.  I think the deciding factor will be the play of Quinn, and if he doesn’t panic in his first start, he will be guaranteed to find Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow open all night with the Broncos missing their top defenders.  Edwards against Dre’ Bly in particular makes me really nervous, with Edwards looking like he’s about to break out for a big game the way his numbers have been climbing the past few weeks.  If the Broncos can rattle Quinn early and maybe even force an early turnover, which they haven’t done all year, then they will be able to stay in the game and maybe even control it.  If they can’t, it will be another long night for the orange and blue.  I really want to pick the Broncos to bounce back, but the rational side of me tells me I can’t.  The short week, the trip east, the missing bodies, the lack of confidence, it will be too much for the Broncos to overcome.

The Pick: Cleveland 27 Denver 17 

I really hope I’m wrong…….

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We’re Still Leading the AFC West HOW?

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 3, 2008

I’m not really sure where to start in explaining the Broncos’ loss to Miami.  For starters it seems easy to point the finger at the officiating crew for wiping out Brandon Marshall’s 77 yard touchdown on an absolutely atrocious offensive pass interference call, but that is not why the Broncos lost this game.  If not that. then on the surface it would seem really easy to point the finger at the defense, which was missing the Bailey brothers and also D.J. Williams to injury later in the game.  After all, the run defense in particular has been atrocious all year, allowing well over 5 yards a carry coming into the game, and the defense has given up a ton of big plays all year.  I am convinced however that this one is not on the defense in any way.  Consider:

– The Broncos were the first team to completely shut down Miami’s “Wildcat” formation, holding the Dolphins to -6 yards on just four plays where they used the trick formation.  (For those unfamiliar, quarterback Chad Pennington lines up as a wide receiver and running back Ronnie Brown takes the direct snap, looking to keep it, hand off to another back, or throw.  The Dolphins destroyed New England and had great success against other teams using the formation).  

– The Broncos allowed Miami to average just 2.6 yards per rush overall and held the Dolphins to just 75 yards for the game, a significant improvement for the Broncos defense.  If you throw out one 30 yard run by Brown, the Broncos held Miami to just 45 yards on their other 28 carries, an average of just 1.6 yards a carry.

– The Dolphins coverted just 4 of 14 third downs against the Broncos

– The Broncos got great pressure on Chad Pennington, recording three sacks and finally getting an interception

– Denver held Miami without an offensive touchdown for the first 57 minutes of the game

Now, was this a perfect effort on defense? Of course not.  But when you consider how many key players the Broncos were missing (especially the league’s top corner, Champ Bailey), their defensive effort is truly to be commended.  This was particularly true in the first half, when the Broncos, as they have done numerous times this year, held Miami to field goals even when they were put in awful position.  

No, this one is squarely on the offense, where there are numerous things to point to here:

– The running game was AWFUL!  If it weren’t for a seven yard scamper by Andre Hall in garbage time on the last drive, the Broncos would have set a franchise record for fewest rushing yards in a game.  They finished with just 14 yards on 12 carries, good for a really lousy 1.2 yards per attempt (7 yards on 11 carries if you eliminate the meaningless carry by Hall), which is one yard better than the team record low set in 1972.  Granted, Miami is 9th in the NFL in run defense, but this effort by the Broncos’ ground game was particularly embarrassing.  It is simply not possible to win in the NFL without some semblance of a running game, it cannot be done.

– Perhaps partially due to the embarrassing lack of a running game, Brandon Marshall was held to just two catches for 27 yards.  This simply can’t happen. I do give Miami a ton of credit for great coverage on him, but Marshall has the size and speed to have an advantage on most corners in the league.  In his defense, Marshall did have the big play wiped out by the bogus penalty, and he did get the ball thrown to him plenty, but he still was a non-factor in the offense.

– Jay Cutler did not have a good day.  Yes, he threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, but too often he seemed like he was forcing throws.  It never seemed like he was able to look off any of the secondary to divert attention from where he was planning to throw the ball.  He also threw three very costly interceptions, including one the play after the long touchdown to Marshall was called back and another that was returned for a touchdown.  

– The Broncos were guilty of 10 penalties for 81 yards, including two illegal formation calls.  

While the offense has been frustrating in general really for the last five games, it is the turnovers that are the most maddening.  The Broncos are DEAD LAST in the NFL in turnover margin at -11, which goes a long way toward explaining why they’ve lost four of their last five games.  Even though the defense finally got a pick today, all three of Cutler’s picks were extremely costly.  His first one on the third play of the game was a killer that gave Miami immediate momentum, his second was returned for a touchdown, and his third came on the play after Marshall’s lost touchdown when he was clearly trying to force a play out of frustration, and led to a Dolphins field goal.  The three interceptions led to 13 Miami points, and it could have easily have been more if not for a great effort by the defense.  That is why i say the D cannot be blamed for this one.  

Sometimes football is a very simple game: you turn the ball over more than the other team you get beat.  While turnovers don’t always tell the whole story, it’s usually a great place to start if you’re trying to figure out why someone won a particular game.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise for example, that the Tennessee Titans lead the NFL in turnover ratio at +10, and they are the only undefeated team in the league.  As I say it’s not a guarantee that winning the turnover battle will always lead to success (Kansas City is third in the NFL at +7), but more often than that the great teams will at the very least not give the ball away, even if they aren’t taking it away.  Giving the other team extra opportunities is never a good recipe for success in any sport.  The Broncos were excellent in this area in the first three games when they were the talk of the league, and now that they are giving the ball away left and right, it should not come as a shock that it is leading to losses.  

Yes, the Broncos did get screwed when Marshall’s touchdown catch got wiped out because of offensive interference, but bad calls are part of the game.  I don’t think there is any question it was a terrible call, particularly since the flag did not get thrown until after Marshall was off to the races, but the Broncos still had chances to win the game.  If Cutler had not thrown a pick on the next play, the defense would not have been backed to the wall trying to make a stop.  I said after the Broncos benefited from the Ed Hochuli call against San Diego that the Chargers still had a chance to stop them and the Broncos shouldn’t apologize for it.  It goes both ways too, the Dolphins shouldn’t apologize for getting lucky on a bad call.  It is the Broncos who should apologize for not running the ball and for committing turnovers at inopportune times, that is what cost them this game, not a blown call.  

Somehow the Broncos are still in sole possession of first place in the AFC West with a 4-4 record.  They should be thanking their lucky stars they are in a bad division, because that’s the only thing keeping them afloat right now.  If San Diego fails to get it together, will we actually see an under .500 division champion in the AFC West? For numerous reasons I hope not.  Regardless of the division lead, the Broncos need to at least play like they deserve to be in that spot, starting with Thursday’s tough game in Cleveland.

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