by Gus Ramsey
If you are familiar with the old NY radio team of Mike and the Mad Dog, then you are probably familiar with their annual routine of going through the Jets and Giants schedule and declaring wins or losses. It made for scintillatingly bad yet entertaining radio to listen to Mike and his heavy New York accent rattle off "uhhh, win.... loss.... that's a loss.... win."
So using that formula, minus the radio and the accent, here's how I see the Denver Broncos 2011 season playing out.
Week 1- home Raiders. Win.
First game in the John Elway Era: Part 2. There is NO chance Elway is losing his first game as boss AT HOME... TO THE RAIDERS... ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. He'll put on a jersey and play if he has to.
Week 2- home Bengals. Win.
The Bengals are bad. We know this. This feels like a game where the new dynamic duo of Dumervil and Miller make their presence felt and harass rookie QB Andy Dalton into 4 turnovers and get 3 or 4 sacks. It's also at this point the Denver Post puts up the poll question "What should the nickname be for Denver's pass rushing duo? a) Orange Rush b) DumerMiller c) The Sack Race brought to you by Sports Authority d) Fast and Furious '11
Week 3 - away Titans. Loss.
Just when Bronco fans will start to get a little excited, Chris Johnson will tell us all to settle down. The Broncos couldn't stop the run last year. This will be their first big test of 2011 (yes I know McFadden kills the Broncos). CJ will break two long runs, go for about 160 and Denver gets their first loss of the year.
Week 4 - away Green Bay. Loss.
I played this game in franchise mode on Madden last night. The Packers forced 3 fumbles and returned them all for TDs. They also had a pick 6. Their defense spent more time jumping into the crowd than Eddie Vedder. This could get ugly fast. The good news is it's being played on October 2nd and there will be some playoff baseball to watch. I'll be reverse jinxing the heck out of the Yankees on Twitter this day.
Week 5- home San Diego. Loss.
Phillip Rivers kills the Broncos. 8-3 with a passer rating of 107. 18 TDs, 6 int. Phillip Rivers is Rambo. The Broncos are the Vietnamese and Russian soldiers. If the Crush Rush (see what I did there? I snuck in another nickname for Elvis and Von. Put that in your poll and smoke it.) can hit Rivers a lot they may have a chance.
Week 6 - bye.
Week 7 - at Miami. Loss.
After 3 straight losses and a bye week, the natives will be getting restless. Talk radio in Denver will be blowing up. If Orton is struggling, the Tebowmaniacs will be calling for a change. It could be dicey. And now the Broncos play the team they almost traded Orton to, and, AND, the Dolphins will be honoring Tebow and his Florida Gator teammates for their national title in an effort to sell tickets. This reeks of Chad Henne doing his "You want Kyle Orton over me as your QB?? Huh?! Chant his name during training camp and boo me, will you?! Well watch this, you no-good so and sos," routine. I know, it's quite a routine, and frankly, never seen before, but brace yourselves for it.
Week 8 - home Detroit. Win.
Potentially awesome showdown of two really good pass rushes. The Crush Rush vs. The Feline D-Line. Chaos will N. Suh for Orton and Stafford (if Orton is still starting and Stafford is still standing). Denver's D and special teams are the keys in this one as the teams QB's combined to go down over ten times.
Week 9 - away Raiders. Loss.
Remember how I said McFadden kills the Broncos? 6 games, 487 yards, 6.16 yards/carry and 5 TDs. 81 yards per game is not exactly slaughtering the defense, but that 6+ yards per carry is super scary. Another big day against a defense still finding it's way against the run. After the game Al Davis credits coach Madden with his excellent game plan and gives Lester Hayes a 5-year, 100-million dollar contract.
Week 10- away Kansas City. Loss.
The Chiefs are going to take a small step back this year, but they are still better than Denver. And few people scare me more when they have the ball in their hands than Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs are 3-3 against Denver in Charles career. Removing 2008 when he barely played, Charles had 32 carries for 97 yards in the two Denver wins. In the two KC wins, Charles rushed 45 times for 375 yards. 3 yards a carry vs 8 yards a carry. Yikes! I fear this is going to be an 8 yards a carry day.
Week 11- home Jets. Win. (really)
Here's the thing. The Jets play the Sunday night game in week 10. They host the Patriots. Kind of a big game. Then they have to travel west and play on Thursday night. Let down plus Jet(s) lag and I smell upset here. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. By the way, the Tebow package gets used significantly here as the Jets won't have much time to prepare for it. He is involved in two Broncos TDs.
Week 12 - away San Diego. Loss.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Week 13 - away Minnesota. Win.
Adrian Peterson will be hurt and unable to play this week. I know this because the Vikings will have already played the Packers twice and will be coming off a road game at Atlanta and their turf. By this point in the season, McNabb will be a liability and the Vikings will have been pounding Peterson to win games. No AP. The Crush Rush is all over McNabb. I feel good about this one. By the way, wacky stuff happens when the Broncs go to Minnesota. In 2003 we had the Randy Moss amazing catch and lateral to Moe Williams right before the half for a Vikings TD. In 1996 we had the Ed McCaffrey catch of the twice-deflected pass for the winning score. This year look for Dumervil and Miller to smash McNabb at the same time, Elvis will pick up the ball and run it in for 6. Meanwhile, Von will scoop up McNabb's head thinking it is the ball, run it into the end zone and spike it in the Viking's mascot's horn.
Week 14 - home Cutler. Win.
Jay Cutler returns to Denver for real (he played there last year in the preseason).
The Broncos crowd is going to be frothing. At this point the Broncs are just 5-7. This game is going to get a lot of "This is our Super Bowl" talk among Broncos fans. In a lost season, knocking Cutler on his Bear bottom over and over again will be quite pleasing. We all know about the Bears o-line and their issues. I imagine coach Fox will come up with a nice scheme to get after Cutler. Last year against the tandem of Collins and Hanie (Cutler either missed this game with a concussion or was working on his wedding gift registry) Fox's Panthers had 3 sacks and 6 QB hits. For good measure Champ is going to pick one off in the red zone (a Cutler staple) and take it 95 yards to the house.
Week 15 - home New England. Loss.
Doesn't it seem like the Patriots come to Denver every year? Denver always seems to kind of have the Patriots number, don't they? Since 1984 the Patriots and Broncos have played 21 times (including the playoffs) with 14 of those games in Denver. The Broncos are 17-4 in those games, including 12-2 in Denver. So why not the same old story? Because the Pats are really good and will be revving it up for the playoffs. I've already given Denver a win over the Jets. You can't really expect me to give them a win over New England too.
Week 16 - away Buffalo. Loss.
Christmas Eve in Buffalo. How depressing is that?
Gus: "No offense, Buffalo."
Buffalo: "None taken, Gus."
Gus: "Thanks, Buffalo. By the way, I enjoy your wings."
Buffalo: "Don't push it."
Gus: "Right.... sorry."
Week 17 - home Chiefs. Loss.
New Year's Day. That means the day after New Year's Eve. A team with nothing to play for vs. a team that is probably playing for a playoff spot. The day after New Year's Eve. Hmmmmm. Let's just say that the Broncos might not be sharp for this one. And then there's this, in their last 3 regular season finales, the Broncos are 0-3 and have given up 129 points. That's a sobering stat.
So there you have it. Get ready for 6-10. A small improvement from a year ago. Not a whopping start to the John Fox Era, but thanks to the return of Elvis and emergence of Von Miller, this team will be far more entertaining to watch.