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31 January, 2012

I can sum up what we saw in the NBA and WWE last night in two words: The UnderBlaker.

27 January, 2012

The 2012 Royal Rumble Contestants

Here are the contestants for this years Royal Rumble Pool. You've been assigned a number. Whatever wrestler comes out at that number entrance during the Rumble is your guy. If he wins the Rumble, you win the pool. Good luck! Remember, if you were not picked this year, run your own pool. It's really fun.

#1  @pdfree21
#2   @gusramsey
#3  @glum25
#4   @mattmilo50
#5  @webstl
#6  @RajivVarma
#7  @yourbuddyjoe
#8    @bank_gruppie
#9   @matthew_k12
#10  @davislyons
#11   @Jubanator14
#12  @samjfranco
#13  @jets1534
#14  @matthew1stewart
#15  @loadser
#16  @thesteamer

#17  @morehouseb
#18  @cmsexton 
#19  @rich_rodrigues
#20   @MrKhakbaz
#21  @thatguynamedJ

#22  @DanPizzuta
#23  @Justin_McElrath  
#24  @BJFountain
#25  @mikemike82
#26  @dgroth17
#27  @gattoj
#28  @theomargonzalez
#29  @tonymac711
#30  @ansheles
 
 

20 January, 2012

Interesting Royal Rumble Theory

   sent to me by reader Kent Brown (@kentbrown34) in an email. He had no idea I would post it and please don't get bogged down in "I heard/read this somewhere else." The world is a big place. Lots of people can have the same "original" thought. It was the first I had heard it. If it's out there in other places, so be it.


After watching RAW the other night, I had an idea with how the WWE can keep this Chris Jericho angle alive.  Since Jericho has basically just went around high-fiving the crowd, getting pumped up and then leaving...why not carry it over to the Royal Rumble?

Hear me out, it's the closing stages of the Royal Rumble match. 2 Participants are still in the ring, with just #30 left to come to the ring.  In a similar fashion to the Bret Hart/Lex Luger ending in 1994, where both of their feet hit the mat at the same time, the same thing happens here. Let's say for arguments sake, the 2 men are Triple H and Kevin Nash.  So then all of a sudden, it's as simple as #30 walking down to the ring, entering the ring and thus winning the Royal Rumble.  And...that 30th participant would be Chris Jericho.  

They can keep the same shtick going, and it would be a valid victory, and cetainly one that has never happened before in any Royal Rumble (which is always a good thing, to have a new way to win).

Let me know what you think.  I think it would be hilarious and Jericho could really milk this thing all the way to WrestleMania.


***I agree. This would be really comical. I'm in. ***

16 January, 2012

The Tebowmeter

   by Gus Ramsey


    If you follow me on Twitter you know my measuring stick for Tim Tebow has been called the Tebowmeter. I began the Tebow as Starting QB Era by setting the Tebowmeter at 5.5, slightly on the good side of optimistic. I said all season long I would not share my official stance on Tebow as the long-term QB of the Denver Broncos until the season was over.

   So here we are. The season is over.

   Tebow showed improvement and showed he is capable of winning games. He threw the deep ball very well. He can run, both by design and scrambling, and withstand the punishment. He is more than capable of rising to the occasion when the pressure mounts. As John Elway said today, the great players rise to the pressure they put on themselves, not the pressure put on them by others. Tebow displayed that he is capable, at times, of doing that.  As Elway said today, Tim deserves the right to go into training camp as the starting quarterback.
   Tebow inspired and energized the organization and most of it's fans. He clearly is a role model in the highest form. At a time when people complain about what pro athletes have become, he is a standard bearer. He is selfless and humble. No one can deny the good he does off the field or the sincerity with which he approaches being a role model. He also proved to have no issues being a leader of the team. Denver as an organization is lucky to have Tim Tebow as an employee.

   I'm very curious to see what he can do after having an off-season of OTA's, mini-camp and training camp as the number one QB. How much can Elway and the QB coach actually help? The things Elway can teach him in film study may prove to be more valuable than anything.

  In honor of Elway, here are my seven concerns about Tebow.

1)  I still have some serious concerns about Tebow as a viable quarterback in the NFL. First off, it's hard to imagine him playing this way in five years. In order to last, he'll need to be able to handle a more traditional offense. There is a reason the average life span of an NFL running back is four years.
2) I'm still very concerned about his ability to read defenses. When he has one-on-one, man-to-man coverage, he looks comfortable in making decisions and throws. But when he plays against a defense like the Patriots presented him, lots of looks and players moving all around, he looked confused.
3)  He needs to learn the value of the check-down. There were countless times when a back or tight end was sitting in the flat, with no one within five yards of them, and Tebow wouldn't throw it to them. Some times he would wait and find receivers down field and try for the big play, but many other times he would run or get sacked. The NFL is all about moving the sticks, and those check-down passes help you do that. He should remember the Bears game when he kept finding the back underneath the deep zone. Those were more designed than an impromptu drop-off pass, but the value in taking what they give you should have been learned there.
4)  Can he complete a slant pass? (Not deep ones like the one to Thomas, the quick ones where the receiver catches the ball inside of five yards of the line of scrimmage.) As I watched the 49ers and the Saints, I was struck by how often Alex Smith threw a seven-yard slant to one of his receivers. Denver didn't have that play in their offense this year. (Tebow did throw one in the playoffs against the Patriots and Thomas dropped it.) Maybe they were called and the receivers couldn't get open, or Tebow didn't pull the trigger, but it's a play that was virtually non-existent this season.
5)  The release remains a problem. The strip-sack of him by the Patriots in the playoffs was entirely because he was bringing the ball down to his hip on his throw. Somehow, some way, that has to be fixed. The game-winner to Thomas against the Steelers he got rid of in .5 seconds. His average release time is .6 seconds. So we know he can do it and we know that 1/10th of a second can make a huge difference.
6)   He needs to learn to make progressions. John Elway talked about it in the press conference today. Elway is hopeful that film study will help Tebow in this area. There were just too many times where it was one look, which became a stare, and then became a run. This is not uncommon with young QBs, but it has to improve.
7)  Lastly, he needs to be consistent. Even the most ardent of Tebow supporters can look at that 46.5 completion percentage and deny his play was sporadic. Teams can't succeed riding a performance roller coaster at the quarterback position. I understand that the coaches were preaching "don't turn it over" and Tebow did well not to throw picks, but they have to instill a confidence in him to make throws on time and let his receivers make plays. With that, the off-season work and short passes becoming part of the repertoire, I am hopeful that Tebow can become a more consistent performer.

   Tim Tebow has now been in the NFL for two seasons. He has played eighteen games where he attempted a pass. Here are his stats compared to another QB's first two years in the league.

Tebow (18 games with a pass attempt):
186-399, 46.6%,  2,836 yards, 19 TD, 9 int. Team record as a starter, 9-7.

Other QB (19 games, all as a starter)
267-501, 53.2%, 3,217 yards, 11 TD, 21 int. Team record as a starter, 3-16.

   The other QB is Steve Young. This is in no way an attempt to suggest that Tim Tebow will rise to the level of Steve Young, but it does show that improvement can be made after a few years in the league. In Young's case, it certainly helped to get out of Tampa Bay and go play for Bill Walsh and with Jerry Rice. Another example is Mike Vick, who was only a 52% passer through his first three seasons. If Tebow dumped the ball off more, perhaps his completion percentage would be in the low to mid 50s.

   So with all of that, I am putting the Tebowmeter at a 7. He deserves a full year to show what he can do, to show that he can learn and develop and prove that he can be a consistent NFL quarterback. That said, the steps he needs to complete to raise the Tebowmeter to an 8 or higher are significant.

****a few other thoughts on this season****

  As far as 9 and 9 seasons go, it was a pretty memorable one. The victories over the Dolphins, Jets, Vikings and Bears will not soon be forgotten. The playoff win over Pittsburgh will never be forgotten. The draft proved to be a good one as Von Miller, Quinton Carter and Orlando Franklin appear to be legit. Rahim Moore and Chris Harris (an undrafted free agent) might be solid contributors in the seasons to come. The jury is still out on tight ends Virgil Green and Julius Thomas, but hopefully they emerge next season as Tebow and the Broncos need to incorporate that position into the passing game more often.
   Von Miller will be great. The thumb injury ruined his season, but he is going to be a stud.
   The offensive line played really well. Adapting mid-season to a new scheme and going from a statue of a QB to a read-option QB is no small task. Orlando Franklin, as the right tackle for a lefty quarterback, will end up being the most important player they drafted this year besides Miller.
   I like John Fox. I like his demeanor. I like the way he handles the media. I like what I see from NFL films in the locker room when he is talking to his team. And I like the way he sticks to his guns, plays the game the way he thinks is best to try and manage it, and doesn't stray from that.
   The Broncos will need two more running backs. McGahee was wearing down at the end of the season and is 30 now. If Denver continues to run this offense, they need three backs they can rotate in there. Knowshon Moreno is not one them.
   They need another wide receiver. Thomas is going to be a stud. I'm not sold on Decker. He drops too many catchable passes for my liking. I'm not sure what to make of Eddie Royal. I think he can still be good but he certainly has fallen a long way from his rookie season, for whatever reason. They need another dynamic, big dude in the receiving corp.
  They need to sign free agent kicker Matt Prater.
  Even though they may be improved next season, there record may not reflect it. Besides their division games, their other home games are against, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina and Houston. Their non-division road games are Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa and New England. That's a tough looking schedule.

15 January, 2012

Royal Rumble Contest 2012

   by Gus Ramsey

   So here's the deal. I will randomly select 29 Twitter followers (I'll be in it too) on 1/27 who let me know they want in on the contest. I will use a random number generator to match up entrance spots with the 29 contestants (plus mine) to determine who gets each entrance number.
  So if you have #22, Sheamus enters at #22 and Sheamus wins, you win. It's great drama waiting to see who your number reveals.
   I'll also give a prize to the person whose wrestler is in the ring the longest. If there are surprise entrants, then I will assign people "surprise entrant #1", etc.
   I will post the names of the entrants and the number they've been assigned here on the blog.
   I'll try and figure out a good prize for the winners.

  If you want a chance to be entered in the contest, leave your name and/or twitter handle in the comments section of this post. Your name will not appear until I approve the post.

13 January, 2012

Heart vs Head

   By Gus Ramsey

   Two worlds collide, rival nations. It's a primitive clash venting years of frustration. 
    - Burning Heart by Survivor


   It's not Russia vs the USA. It's not Drago vs Rocky. But one of the longest running rivalries, one that doesn't get nearly enough attention, is the battle of head versus heart.


   As a sports fan, this is longest running battle you can encounter. I try to be pragmatic in my fandom. I certainly want my teams to win. There are times when I talk myself into ways my teams can pull upsets or won't blow games they should win, but I always try to be as rational as possible when analyzing my teams chances for victory. If you let your heart get in the way, you end up making bets that result in you wearing a tiara and a tutu as you walk into CVS and purchase feminine hygiene products in the middle of the day. The heart is where hope lives. The head is where common sense sets up shop.  So let's look at tomorrow's AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Patriots and Broncos through the scope of both my heart and my head.


   CAN THE BRONCOS SLOW DOWN THE PATRIOTS OFFENSE? 

HEART: Yes. They'll do it by keeping the ball on offense, winning the time of possession battle something like 35:00-25:00. Even though the Pats slowed the Denver running attack after the first quarter in their last meeting, Denver will make some adjustments and still rush for 150+ yards. On defense, they'll have a better plan for the tight ends and a healthier Von MIller will help keep the pressure on Brady. 


HEAD: No. They can't afford to blitz Brady too much because he torched them when they blitzed in the last game. Right now Denver's best success with pressuring the QB comes when they bring more than four rushers, as we saw last week against Pittsburgh. There will be a huge need for Dumervill, Miller, Ayers and the other linemen to generate pressure up the middle without having to bring other people and expose the LB's and DB's in one-on-one matchups with the Patriots tight ends and Wes Welker. 


  CAN THE BRONCOS OFFENSE SCORE ENOUGH TO WIN THE GAME?


HEART: Yes. They just torched the #1 ranked defense in the NFL for 447 yards and the Patriots give up 428 yards a game. Clearly Denver was thwarted by their own mistakes last game, and once the deficit was too large, the Patriots ignored the threat of the running game. The Broncos won't cough it up three times in this one and should be able to score 28 points, which might be enough. 


HEAD: No shot. This is Bill Belichick we are talking about. Even with a substandard defense, he is seeing a team for the second time. He knows what worked and what didn't last game. He'll make the necessary adjustments. Also, little known fact, the Patriots gave up fewer points this year than Denver, and they get back two key guys in Spikes and Chung who didn't play in the first game. The Patriots are going to score 30+ points and there is no way Denver can keep up with that. 


   THOSE THREE FUMBLES MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE FIRST GAME


HEART: You bet they did. The Broncos were ahead 16-14 and moving the ball with ease on each possession when Lance Ball gave up the first one, which New England recovered on the Denver 23. Tebow coughed up the next one at the Denver 42 and the Pats turned that into a touchdown. Suddenly Denver was down eight and came out passing in their ensuing series, leading to a three and out. Then Cosby handed over the third fumble and suddenly it was 27-16 Patriots. Game over.


HEAD: Maybe, but there is a larger point to be made. Inconsistent teams make mistakes like that. During the Tebow starting stretch, consistency has been hard to find. So while yes, the fumbles hurt, you can't just simply dismiss them as not happening again, because inconsistent teams can't be trusted. And there is this: New England had an AFC best 34 takeaways. Denver was second to last in the AFC with 30 giveaways. Not a good combination of stats for Broncos fans. 


   THE COLD WEATHER IS NOT A GOOD THING FOR TEBOW


HEART: The coldest weather game Tim Tebow has played in was the game at Buffalo in week 16. He came out sleeveless and tried to convince us (and maybe himself) that cold is only a state of mind. We all know the results weren't good, but it's not going to be -25 Saturday night. It'll be 10-20 degrees, the adrenaline will be pumping, he'll probably put on some sleeves and maybe a glove and he'll be fine. 


HEAD: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!! It's going to be frickin' freezing tomorrow night. The Dude is a Florida guy. My wife is from Coral Gables. When I dragged her kicking and screaming to Connecticut seventeen years ago, it took her a good two years to adapt. I understand he has been in Colorado for a few months now, but this freezing cold is not going to be a good thing. 


  REMEMBER ROCKY 4?


HEART: Yes, of course I do. And yes, right now Tebow is Rocky, trying to beat the unbeatable foe. Tom Brady is Drago. The rugged, unbreakable fighter with the hot wife. America is Adrian screaming at Tim, "You can't win!!" Bill Belichick is Nicoli Koloff saying stuff like, "It is physically impossible for this little team to win." Robert Kraft is the Soviet President (normally played by Billy Packer) sitting up in his box, expecting destruction. John Fox is Paulie. John Elway is Duke. He'll pull Tebow aside before the game and tell him, "The Denver Broncos were like my son. I made them. And when I retired, a part of the Denver Broncos died. But now you're the one. You're the one that has to keep the Bronco spirit alive. You're the one that's going to make sure I didn't retire for nothing. Now, you're going to go through hell. Worse than any nightmare you ever dreamed. But in the end, I know you'll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it. Do it!" 


HEAD: If he dies, he dies. 


  CAN THE BRONCOS WIN THE GAME? 


HEART: Maybe. It'll take an amazing performance. Probably have to be +2 in turnovers. Probably have to win the time of possession battle by a decent margin. Someone on defense is going to have to put on a Superman cape and find a way to slow down the Patriots passing game. Plus, they have some momentum going now and a lot of confidence after beating the Steelers. If things go right, they can win something like 27-24.


HEAD: No. The Patriots are a better team, a healthier team and certainly a nearly impossible team to beat at home. It's likely that Denver will be playing catchup most of the game. I still don't see where Denver has an answer for the Patriots tight ends. It's been an amazing season, but it ends here, and it could get ugly. Patriots 38-17. 


   I really, really hope the Broncos win this game. I just don't see it happening. 
   My heart just kicked my head in the shin. 

Tim Tebowie

   Jimmy Fallon combines Tim Tebow and David Bowie into Tim Tebowie
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2012/01/jimmy-fallon-combines-tim-tebow-with-david-bowie/1

12 January, 2012

Broncos Podcast

   Bill Simmons asked me to host a Broncos themed podcast for the Grantland Network. We rounded up Mark Schlereth, Rod Smith and Chris Harris. Here are the results
http://tinyurl.com/7bel366

11 January, 2012

09 January, 2012

Broncos links

  a fan camera reaction to the GW touchdown
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odSZIvgpZFA&feature=related

  The Broncos locker room after the game
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EZBgeFKnH0&feature=related

  Broncos.com highlights with great low-angle look at Thomas TD and then the camera following him up into the tunnel
http://www.denverbroncos.com/multimedia/videos/Broncos-vs-Steelers-BTV-Highlights/28afa616-b0a2-4eec-84a5-b3879db5d857

   At the 1:24 mark of this clip, check out Champ on the sidelines jumping up and down just inside the Steelers side of the 50 yard line.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySQsnChKe1c&feature=related

  People watching at home
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpgPn0VKHAU&feature=related

  This guy is doing pretty much what I did
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enVJPLfkKLI&feature=related

Good in-stadium post-game material about 2:00 in
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88RV_s4Mdek&feature=related

Good in-stadium crowd going bonkers after the TD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTZS_PsrV6M&feature=related

enjoyable little dude watching the TD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW86yryeN8A&feature=related

06 January, 2012

Eye of the Trigger

   by Gus Ramsey
 
   If you stand toe-to-toe with this bum, he'll kill you. It doesn't take a man to stand there and get your head beat off...! He's just a man, Rock, so be MORE man than him! Go get him; Eye Of the Tiger! 


You're not going to believe this, but when trying to think of parallels for the Broncos/Steelers game, I thought of Rocky 3.

   Right now, Tim Tebow is Rocky after losing to Clubber Lang. His confidence is shot and he's not sure what matters anymore. He may have spent part of the week walking around downtown Denver asking himself "How did everything that was so good get so bad?" 
  In October, Broncos fans started chanting his name and put up "Play Tebow" billboards around Denver. Then he started winning and they all but put up a statue of him. But now he's lost three straight and maybe doesn't think he is worthy of all the attention. You can almost see the statue unveiling ceremony unfolding like this
Crowd: "Tee-bow! Tee-bow! Tee-bow!" 
Let's immortalize the southpaw!

Tebow: "What do you say to something like this? About three months ago... this city... really took me inside, you know? And I want to thank you very much for that. I really do.  And I've been thinking that, uh, I wasn't going to bring this up, but I might as well now. I would never do anything to hurt this town that has been so really good to me. It's really hard to say this. I feel like, well... I'm thinking maybe it's time that Brady Quinn got a start... " 
Crowd: (gasps in horror) "No!!!! No!!" 

   The Steelers are Clubber Lang. They are big and mean and intimidating. Any pre-game interviews will include predictions of pain and Lamar Woodley saying something like "I'm gonna torture him. I'm gonna crucify him. Real bad."  James Harrison is probably going to walk out for the coin toss, look right at Tebow and snarl "Dead meat." 
He was scary...
he is terrifying!
   Pittsburgh is going to come flying out of their corner and look to hit Tebow with as many haymakers as possible, going for the early knockout.


   I suppose all of this makes John Fox, Mickey. He has been protecting Tebow, trying hard not to let him get hurt, nursing him through victories against tomatoes like Carson Palmer, Caleb Hanie, Christian Ponder and Mark Sanchez. I can see Fox in a meeting with Tebow this week having this exchange 

Fox: "This isn't just another defense. It's a wrecking machine. And they're hungry!" 
Tebow: "Hey, I won six games in a row this season."
Fox: "That was easy." 
"They'll sack ya' inta next week!"
Tebow: Whadda ya' mean 'easy'?" 
Fox: "They was poorly coached."
Tebow: "Set ups?"
Fox: "Nah, they wasn't set-ups, but they all played soft cover 2. They weren't killers like Pittsburgh. They'll knock ya' into tomorrow, Tim." 
   Just like Mickey's confidence in Rocky wavered, I don't think John Fox is going into this game thinking Tebow is going to win it for him. 
   This doesn't mean, however, that John Fox has to die in order for the Broncos to win on Sunday...at least I don't think it does. 

"THERE IS NO TOMORROW!"
   And that leaves John Elway, the retired champ/mentor, playing Apollo Creed. When John said this week "Pull the trigger!" he may have well as been saying "Eye of the tiger!" The message is the same, "get your mojo back or you're going out of here in a body bag." Maybe Elway popped in on the quarterbacks meeting and Brady Quinn said something to Tebow like, "Don't listen to all the critics, Tim," and then Elway chimed in with, "No. Do listen to it, Tim. Because when it's over everyone is going to owe you an engraved apology." If they are down at halftime maybe Elway will go into the locker room and scream "There is no tomorrow! THERE IS NO TOMORROW!" 

   Denver needs to wear the Steelers down, just like Rocky wore down Clubber in the second fight. Pound away with the running game. Spread the field a few times and let Tebow run, forcing Harrison and Woodley (recently back from injuries) to run around in altitude and gasp for some air. Maybe Tebow bowls over Harrison on a run, gets up and says "You ain't so bad!" 
   It's going to be a miracle of sorts for Denver to win this game, but if they can pull it out, maybe, just maybe, Tebow and Elway will have an awkward man-hug on the field after the game. 

Risin' up, back in the pocket
Made my reads, took my chances
Threw some quick slants
Now I'm movin' my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
The zone blitz makes you pull back your passes
Don't lose your grip on the seams of the ball
You must fight just to keep the drive alive

It's time to pull the trigger
It's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last rated passer
Let's his ball take to flight
And John's watching from high up above
"Pull the trigger!"
 

02 January, 2012

8 and 8 and feeling....

   by Gus Ramsey

      So here we are. AFC West Champs, hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game. Given that I said the Broncos would be 6 and 10 this year, I can't say I'm unhappy with an 8 and 8 season that produced a playoff appearance. And yet....

   After the Patriot game, I felt (as did many others) that Tim Tebow was starting to throw the ball well. He was coming off his first option, finding other receivers, throwing the ball with zip and some accuracy, there were positive signs. All of those feelings went away against the Chiefs. Kansas City spent the bulk of the game in press, man-to-man coverage with one deep safety. Somehow the Broncos receivers never won at the line of scrimmage, or so it seemed. You would think once in a while a receiver would beat his corner off the line and get a step. Or maybe Tebow never read it when it happened or never had the confidence to throw it. It's truly perplexing. Are the Broncos receivers that bad? I will say it was the most tentative I've seen Tebow since the first Chiefs game. This is the same defense that slowed down the Packers, so I guess it's not surprising they stuffed Denver most of the day. But you have to expect Dick Lebeau and the top rated Steelers defense will have their own game plan that will be equally effective.

  As for Tebow the runner, defenses appear to have stymied the QB part of read-option. Tebow almost never keeps the ball on that play anymore. He seems to be most effective running when the Broncos are spread with 4 or 5 receivers on the field. Yesterday there were few times, if any, when Denver went four wide. When Denver only sends two receivers out on patterns, there are seven or eight defenders around the line of scrimmage, clogging it up and making running lanes hard to find. Tebow's best runs of the year came against Jets and Bears defenses that were spread out.

   Is it the play-calling or the quarterback? It's kind of become a self-fullfilling prophecy. Fox plays everything close to the vest, and has clearly told Tebow not to force anything, but now when he needs to throw, he throws without conviction, or worse yet, doesn't throw at all. As Phil Simms said during the game, "Tebow needs to learn what open in the NFL looks like." You would think Eric Decker and Demayrius Thomas are "open" more than it appears. They are big guys with a size advantage on most DB's. Sometimes you have to throw it at them and let them make plays. Think of the throw Orton made to Bowe along the right sideline over Bailey. Champ could not have played it better, but Bowe is taller and Orton threw is centimeters above Bailey's fingertips for a completion. Tebow doesn't seem to have the confidence to attempt that throw. They did pass the ball twenty-two times yesterday. That's a decent number. Tebow completed six passes. Six. That's not a decent number.

   Denver had decent success on first down against the Chiefs, when they ran it. In looking at the play-by-play, Denver threw the ball on first down six times. Tebow was 0-5 on those passes and drew one penalty. Sooner or later you have to be able to complete SOMETHING on first down. For every four or five yard first down run, there's the loss of a yard or minimal gain. It's kind of the law of averages with so many men in the box. Many fans, myself included, wonder why a screen pass isn't in the arsenal, especially on first down. Maybe it's because the defense is so focused on maintaining the edge and containing Tebow that screens are kind of pre-defended. Regardless, Denver needs to find the 5-10 yard passing game.

   Here's a great note from ESPN's Stats and Information people. Denver's -81 is in the top six worst point differentials (2nd only to last year's Seahawks) for playoff teams. All of those other teams WON their wild card game. http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/35558/struggling-broncos-could-surprise-steelers

   Can they beat Pittsburgh? Sure. That's why they play the games. Will they? No. Denver struggles defensively when teams spread them out and that's what Pittsburgh does really well. They may be even more inclined to do it without Mendenhall in their lineup. With Harrison, Polamalu, Woodley and the rest, Pittsburgh is an extremely athletic defense that shouldn't have trouble running with Tebow. In fact, the running game in general will likely struggle. The injuries to Kuper and Larsen are huge. McGahee and Ball both looked dinged up by the end of the Chiefs game. The explosion play is gone from the offense. Every time McGahee looks like he might break one, it ends up being a ten-to-twelve yard gain.
Denver is going to need a special teams AND defensive touchdown to win this game. It sure feels like ten points would be enough to secure victory for Pittsburgh.

   The week leading up to a Broncos playoff game is one of my favorite things in life. I dissect the game. I talk about it with friends. I try and find ways to talk myself into the Broncos winning the game. And as the week goes on, the excitement builds and by kickoff I'm ready to explode. And that should be what happens this week, I just don't see it happening. The last few weeks have been so bad, so depressing, I can't see myself getting extra jacked up for this game. Don't get me wrong, I'll be excited and thankful to have a playoff game for the first time in six years, I just don't see how it's going to be enjoyable.