In sports, talking about what might happen is almost as much fun as talking about what actually happened.
It won’t matter later, but the talking about the 2017 Broncos has been filled with doubt. The Broncos will, according to most experts, again miss the playoffs. The Broncos, according to a few experts, will stumble to a losing record.
This inspires a question:
Have the experts examined John Elway’s record with the Broncos?
Elway has been associated with the Broncos for 22 seasons, 16 as quarterback and six as godfather/general manager. In those 22 seasons, the Broncos qualified for the playoffs 15 times (they finished 11-5 in 1985 and still missed the postseason) and stumbled to only two losing seasons (1990 and 1994).
I understand the skepticism about the Broncos. The running game (27th in the NFL last season) remains suspect. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler are human question marks. Defensive genius/senior citizen Wade Phillips has taken up residence in Los Angeles, where he directs the Rams defense.
Still, Elway’s history shouts that the experts are underestimating the Broncos. And, remember, the doubting can and should benefit the Broncos.
Last season, the Broncos lacked a certain something and stumbled to a 9-7 record in one of their most disappointing and baffling seasons. At times, the team looked mighty, but the snarling edge of 2015 was gone.
This season, inspired by doubters, the Broncos have more reason to be hungry and angry. The edge could return.
“It adds to the fire,” linebacker Shaquil Barrett said with a laugh. “I love proving people wrong, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
For much of this decade, the Broncos have resided among the NFL’s elite. They cruised to five straight AFC West Titles, and during Peyton Manning’s four-season reign they utterly dominated the Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers. From 2011-2015, the Broncos rampaged to a 24-6 record in the AFC West.
Last season, the Broncos stumbled to a 2-4 record in the AFC West. The Manning magic was gone.
Many believe the magic will stay gone in 2017.
The Broncos could have ignored the doubters. They’re making a better choice by embracing the scoffers.
“It’s inspiration,” receiver Bennie Fowler said. “It’s motivation, and it’s for all year. We’re going to enjoy being the underdog and proving people wrong.”
No writers and broadcasters will be sprinting on the field Monday night at Mile High to face the Chargers and strong-armed and ever-yakking Philip Rivers. The members of the media will be watching. No matter their view of the Broncos, these experts will be helpless to make their predictions come true.
The talking is over. The brain-rattling hitting is about to begin.
The Broncos ended last season with a magnificent 24-6 smackdown of the Raiders, utterly dominating the mangy visitors from California. After the game, the locker room was quiet. Everyone knew the victory carried with it a haunting question.
“Why haven’t we been playing like this all year?” superstar linebacker Von Miller asked.
Overblown expectations might have had something to do with it, Von.