The Broncos aren’t looking good through first quarter of season |

The Broncos aren’t looking good through first quarter of season

It is better than last year, though

Broncos coach Vic Fangio looks like he's having as much fun as a 1-3 start will allow. That record is not likely to get any better with the Patriots and Chiefs the next two weeks.
John Minchillo | AP photo

Yeah, it seems like ages since the Broncos last played — all of one week since Denver beat the Jets, 37-28, in New York on “Thursday Night Football.”

It still doesn’t change the reality that the Broncos are not good, though technically improved over last year after four weeks with a 1-3 record as opposed to 0-4.

Yes, if the Broncos keep improving at this rate, we might have a good team by about 2023. Congratulations to John Elway on the count.

You try at the beginning of the year to be optimistic, and, then, everyone gets injured, and kablooey.

The bad news? Yes, there’s more. It doesn’t seem like there’s any relief in sight with regard to the schedule. Denver’s at New England this week (ruh-roh), home for Miami (will this be Tua Tagovailoa’s first start?) and then Kansas City (gulp) comes to town.

Right now, it looks like quarterback Drew Lock is a coin flip to return on Sunday — he did return to practice on Wednesday — while Phillip Lindsay should be back.

Reason for hope? Maybe this weekend’s game at New England may not happen? Pats quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 and two other New England players (Stephon Gilmore and Bill Murray) have joined the ranks. Of course, we shouldn’t be rooting for this, but we hope New England errs on the side of safety and benches like their entire team “out of an abundance of caution,” and maybe the Broncos have a chance?

I’m trying my best here to have a sunny disposition.

COVID crisis

On a more serious note, is the NFL reaching a crisis point with the virus?

New England at Kansas City got pushed back a day last week, while the Steelers at Titans was postponed.

While I joked about the Pats and COVID-19, the NFL has to be careful with how New England handles the situation. This is not exactly a forthcoming organization with a reputation for truth-telling. Fox and other national media outlets are reporting that Broncos-Pats may not be played this week. The Raiders-Chiefs game is also iffy and the Titans still haven’t been able to return to their facilities for practice. Tennessee is theoretically playing the Buffalo Bills this week.

My bet is that we are going to have postponements across the schedule at various points this season with the NFL simply pushing back the postseason to get the regular season finished.

Remember that the NFL is more concerned with renegotiating its national television contracts after this season than anything else.

Quarter pole

With 25% of the schedule (minus Steelers-Titans) in the books, a few judgments:

• The Seahawks, Packers, Chiefs and Steelers are the teams to beat at a combined 15-0. This can change. Sorry to bring it up, but the Broncos started 4-0 in 2016 and that ended 9-7.

• How funny is it that Baltimore still gets no respect at 3-1? The Ravens are in the above category and I apologize.

• I want to buy into the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots have won 11 straight AFC East titles and 17 of the last 19 (Dolphins in 2008 and Jets in 2002), so they do need to be dethroned. I want to hear Chris Berman admonish us, “that nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.”

The thing is the Bills have played the undercard of their schedule — Jets, Dolphins, Rams and Raiders. This week, COVID permitting, they’ve got the Titans and then have Kansas City on a Thursday. Let’s see, but fingers crossed.

• Tom Brady looked like his old Brady-self last week and the Bucs are 3-1. A word of warning, though. The Saints always start slowly. Drew Brees is always old and over the hill this time of year. And since Brady is in the same demographic, well, New Orleans and Tampa should be duking it out all year.

• The Cleveland Browns are 3-1. I’m not touching that with a 10-foot pole.

• Freud has deep concern for: the 49ers and the Cowboys. This level of concern manifests itself in different ways given that the Niners are Freud’s team and Freud absolutely hates the Cowboys.

Week 5 games to watch

• Tampa Bay at Chicago … Finally, a decent “Thursday Night Football” game. The Bears aren’t for real as a whole, but their defense is. What can Tampa Tom do against Da Bears?

• If it’s played, Bills at Titans is the game of the week.

• Colts at Browns … Can one of these teams (more likely the Colts) join the AFC elite?

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