On Football: Predicting the Broncos brutal 2009 schedule
Vail, CO Colorado
Even Broncos fans with an image of John Elway tattooed on their left biceps can’t like what they see.
Denver’s 2009 schedule ” which the NFL released Tuesday ” is brutal. At one point, the Broncos play a stretch of eight-straight games against teams who finished 2008 with a winning record. Mixed in are dates with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, New England, Dallas, the New York Giants, Baltimore and San Diego (twice).
As a loyal Broncos fan, I always hold out hope for the best. Heck, I defended Brian Griese even though he couldn’t throw a pass more than 15 yards.
I predict misery in 2009. Jay Cutler or not, Denver wasn’t making the playoffs next season. The best case scenario with this brutal slate is 6-10. I don’t want to think about anything worse than that even if it’s a real possibility.
Here we go through the season:
Week 1, at Cincinnati: If there is one team in more disarray than the Broncos, it’s the Bungles. How is Marvin Lewis still coaching there? Or is he? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Their best receiver ” no, not Chad Johnson ” T.J. Houshmandzadeh and his 100 catches per year are in Seattle. Carson Palmer returns from a number of ailments, but the defense is still a mess. Broncos 24, Bengals 17.
Week 2, vs. Cleveland: The home opener (is there such a thing in football?) features a meeting between two former Bill Bilichick disciples. Josh McDaniels and new Browns coach Eric Mangini will both be wearing hooded sweatshirts, but did they learn anything else from Bilichick? Judging by Mangini’s first stop in New York, he didn’t learn much. Unless he’s filming the Broncos’ sideline, Denver comes out on top. Broncos 27, Browns 20.
Week 3, at Oakland: Thank goodness Al Davis is still firing coaches. As long as he is, the Raiders will be a joke. Since Oakland lost to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl in 2002, the Raiders have employed five different head coaches who have a combined record of 35-77. Brutal. Like its first two games, Denver must win this one. Broncos 31, Raiders 20.
Week 4, vs. Dallas: This is where the schedule starts to get a little tougher. OK, a lot tougher. The matchup with the Cowboys starts a stretch of eight-straight games against teams who had winning records in 2008. Dallas is minus Terrell Owens, but that’s a good thing. I still don’t buy Wade Phillips as its head coach. If I were a Cowboys fan, I’d almost be hoping for failure so Jerry Jones would hire Mike Shanahan immediately after the season. I’ll generously give this one to Denver. Broncos 28, Cowboys 27.
Week 5, vs. New England: It’s safe to say that Bilichick doesn’t have the best relationships with former assistants who leave his tutelage. I think he’ll try to prove a point to young McDaniels ” he’s still the boss. Tom Brady comes back and assuming he’s healthy, it automatically elevates the Patriots to Super Bowl contenders. This one could get ugly. Patriots 42, Broncos 20.
Week 6, at San Diego: With Jay Cutler, this game at least had a few interesting subplots. Now, it’s nothing more than a Monday night snoozer. The Chargers have destroyed the Broncos recently, save for Ed Hochuli’s gift last season. Shawn Merriman and his steroid-induced rage should improve the San Diego defense. I also see the Chargers changing into more of a passing team in 2009 with LaDainian Tomlinson aging. Either way, it won’t matter: Chargers 35, Broncos 17.
Week 7, Bye: Thank you, although it’s not sure who’s the favorite.
Week 8, at Baltimore: Yes, the Ravens still possess a stifling defense, but the offense came to life ” finally ” last year. Joe Flacco will be a season’s worth of experience better in 2009. Couple that with Denver going on the road and it’s another loss. Ravens 21, Broncos 13.
Week 9, vs. Pittsburgh: The Super Bowl champs travel to Denver for this Monday night game. I’ll never forget Ben Roethlisberger picking apart the Broncos in the 2005 AFC Championship Game. That one still stings. He’ll do the same here. Steelers 34, Broncos 17 (look familiar?).
Week 10, at Washington: The Broncos could steal one here. Or not. The Redskins are usually tough at home and after playing the bruising Ravens and Steelers in consecutive weeks Denver will be beat up. Former Bronco Clinton Portis would like nothing more than to score a couple of TDs against his former mates and then wear a goofy wig after the game. Redskins 23, Broncos 21.
Week 11, vs. San Diego: What changes from the first meeting? Well home-field advantage, I guess. I’ll give the Broncos another touchdown. Chargers 31, Broncos 24.
Week 12, vs. New York Giants: A Thanksgiving date in Denver? That’s awesome. Too bad it’s against the Giants. Indigestion, anyone? Brandon Jacobs is salivating at the opportunity to play the Broncos. Unless Eli tosses a pick and has the patented confused Manning look on his face, the Giants will send Denver to their seventh loss in a row. Giants 30, Broncos 17.
Week 13, at Kansas City: Why must Denver fans wait 12 games for the annual meltdown in Kansas City? The Chiefs have a new coach and quarterback, just like Denver. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they rarely win at Oakland and Kansas City in the same season no matter how dreadful the two teams are. Remember last season’s debacle in KC? Me neither, it’s permanently blocked out of memory. Here’s a fresh scar. Chiefs 24, Broncos 23.
Week 14, at Indianapolis: Speaking of painful memories, Peyton Manning owns the Broncos. He can practically name how many yards he wants to throw for. My only hope is Bob Sanders doesn’t hurt any of the Broncos’ receivers. Colts 42, Broncos 21.
Week 15, vs. Oakland: The question here is whether or not Tom Cable is still the Raiders coach at this point in the season. I predict not. Good thing for the Broncos because they snap their nine-game losing streak. Broncos 34, Raiders 24.
Week 16, at Philadelphia: Denver’s new safety, Brian Dawkins, goes home. Think about Rod Smith playing for someone else and that’s what it will be like for Eagles fans. Philadelphia could be playing for a playoff spot or putting the final touches on Andy Reid’s tenure as coach. I’m not sure it will matter for Denver. Eagles 28, Broncos 20.
Week 17, vs. Kansas City: It’ll be hard to get excited about this one. Both teams will be well out of the playoffs. In a miraculous turn of events, Kyle Orton shaves his neck beard and leads Denver to a season-ending win. Broncos 33, Chiefs 14.
Overall record: 6-10. Is it really that bad for Denver sports fans that we have to get excited about the Nuggets?
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.