The long NFL off-season seems to be even longer after a disappointing season. Defending the Vince Lombardi trophy last year made our struggles in 2016 even more hard to take. I found it hard to accept even when our elimination from playoff contention was inevitable. When elimination was eventually confirmed, I remember feeling deflated sitting on my couch approx. 3am on Christmas night watching our Broncos get rolled over by the Chiefs. Even over indulging on Jack Daniels didn’t improve my mood. A pretty crappy way to end Christmas day. At least we finished the season the following week on a lighter note by spoiling the Raiders chances of winning the division title.
That’s all in the past now and we can dust ourselves off from last year’s disappointment as finally the off-season is nearly over. Proper football is upon us. Not pre-season, but actual competitive, meaningful football. Sundays are no longer boring!
Well us Broncos fans have to wait a little bit longer than the rest. For us in the UK – we aren’t kicking off until the early hours of Tuesday morning – 03.20am to be exact! Part of me thinks why am I getting up at that crazy time to watch it live? Why am I going without sleep when I could watch it the following day after I finish work. But to be honest with myself? I can’t wait any longer. And its the same scenario every season with the same outcome. That outcome being I stay up to the little hours of the morning whenever Broncos feature on the primetime slot in the States. The thought of working all day Tuesday, therefore essentially waiting another 24 hours to watch our opening game is my idea of personal torture. A lot of you reading this on our side of the pond will feel the exact same way as me. Enduring little sleep all because of the Denver Broncos.
Excitement aside, there is an actual game to be played. And we welcome the Chargers to Mile High to open the season. It’s the Chargers first regular season game as the Los Angeles Chargers. No longer can we quote the movie Anchorman with ‘Go f*ck yourself San Diego’. But I’m sure making Philip Rivers spit out the dummy will still make us laugh.
Rivers though, as we all know too well can be a thorn in our side if we give him time to get comfortable in the pocket. He’s also got some good weapons to help him out. RB Melvin Gordon seemed to be coming onto a game at the end of the 2016 season. With our run defense letting us down last year, this is an area we will need to improve on if we’re to open the season with a win. If Gordon can occupy our front 7 and even force us into bringing an extra man into the box to defend the run. Then Rivers will have more arsenal when he has the ball in his hand, even against the No Fly Zone. I like our defense’s chances against anybody. However if we don’t hold Gordon and the Chargers’ rushing attack in check, guys like Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and the TE combo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry give the Chargers an edge. Our defense will have its work cut out for them. But the Chargers’, much like ourselves last year struggled in keeping their QB upright. Injury has struck their attempts in upgrading their offensive line this off-season. So let’s hope our pass rush can cause them problems. This sounds like a boring, easy prediction to make but Von Miller can go into Monday’s game and begin where he left off last season.
On the other side of the ball, after another quarterback battle in camp, most people will be interested to see how Trevor Siemian plays. In my opinion, that will come down to how our revamped offensive line comes together. If Siemian is actually given time in the pocket and if we can actually find a consistent rushing attack, then I have a lot of confidence that Siemian will continue to develop into the upper echelon of starting quarterbacks in the National Football League. Considering everything he had against him last year, Siemian looked fairly solid and made few mistakes. There was no consistent running game and a poor offensive line to protect him. But this undrafted quarterback, in his first year starting in the league, looked poised. I think his confidence will grow if our offensive line can open up holes for the likes of CJ Anderson, Booker and Charles. Just look at our win over Houston on Monday night football last season, the one game we actually did run the ball well. Nearly 200 yards on the ground, consumed the clock and the 27-9 score-line probably flattered the Texans. If our offensive line can get any consistent play, along with our defense we should be in playoff contention.
That’s my outlook on the offense for the season ahead. But lets look at their actual match-up vs the Chargers. I hate sounding like a broken record, but a lot hinges on our offensive line. On Monday night our new look offensive line is up against a potential defensive player of the year candidate in Joey Bosa. Despite missing pre-season last year by holding out, he never missed a step and always seems to find himself in the offensive backfield breaking up plays. They will also be up against DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. He seems to have gotten over the injury bug and is becoming a factor for the Chargers. If Denver can establish the run, mix up the play calling then we should put points on the board. Adding a bit of speed to our offense should help mix up the play calling a little. I’m excited to see what Jamaal Charles brings, despite injuries over the years, you can see he still has a burst of speed. I reckon he has big game Monday night to announce his arrival in Denver.
PREDICTION – Even with my orange tinted glasses off for a moment in an attempt to be impartial…I go for a Broncos win in a close game. Denver by 7.