DENVER — The Broncos?
Psssh. Buncha pushovers, if you ask me. After stinking up the joint for the vast majority of four straight games, they really think they’re going to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium on "Monday Night Football"? Three words: LOL.
“If we win this game, we’ll have all you guys back on our side,” said defiant cornerback Aqib Talib, who’s been busy doubling down on his belief media reports of the Broncos’ demise is just more fake news. “We’ll have great articles on (Tuesday). We’ll be the best team in the league again.”
Which league? The Colorado College intramural league?
Drastic times call for drastic measures. So chalk this up as a social experiment: With their 2017 season on the brink, the Broncos said over and over they are at their best when nobody believes in them.
Let’s give Talib’s theory a chance (since the Broncos don’t have one). Can’t get worse than being shut out against the Chargers, right? Join me in hollering with the same enthusiasm you shout in-com-plete: Nobody believes in the Broncos.
Worth a try. Nothing else seems to be working. These Broncos? Goners.
(My older sister used reverse psychology on me and went 18 years without taking out the trash.)
Is there anything to the idea that “nobody believes in us” can be an effective motivator?
“I don’t think it’s a cliché,” said Dr. Traci Statler, executive board member at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. “I think when you are coming into a competitive environment as the underdog, there is a lack of pressure on you, because there is nothing to lose. You are able to play more freely than if you are a frontrunner. I don’t think it’s an old wives’ tale.”
Maybe Dr. Talib is on to something.
“Pats on the back is not good all the time. It can make you relax. We need to be the underdog,” Talib told me in the Broncos' locker room. “We play well as the underdog. We played really well during the Super Bowl year. The beginning of this year — Dallas was the favorite, Oakland was the favorite. We won as underdogs. Us being the underdog this week, I think it will help.”
OK, Docs. You asked for it: the Broncos couldn’t score in Scrabble with the entire alphabet.
How are the Broncos supposed to win with an end-zone allergy? The Chiefs average 30 points per four quarters. The Broncos don’t have 30 points in their last 12 quarters. (They have 26.) The quarterback is under fire. Six games in, the new head coach is under fire. The kicker — the kicker! — is under fire. Meanwhile, the defense is breathing fire — at the others, who aren’t as good.
“We can’t control what the offense does. That’s on them,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “They meet in a totally different room than us. We have to control what we can control.”
We’re here to help. The Broncos are touchdown underdogs to the Chiefs. It should be two touchdowns.
Halloween is Tuesday, and the Broncos’ past three games against the Chiefs (all losses) are downright scary: 29-13, when Peyton Manning threw four interceptions and Brock Osweiler took over in the third quarter, ahem; 30-27, Gary Kubiak opted for a 62-yard field field goal and Brandon McManus missed in overtime, the loss that started this slide; 33-10, punctuated by a 340-pound nose tackle, Dontari Poe, throwing a touchdown pass with the Chiefs already up 17 points.
KC’s laid it on thick. Peyton's gone, and the Chiefs aren’t scared of the Broncos anymore.
Denver hasn’t lost a fourth straight game to K.C. since 2000.
Nevermind that embattled quarterback Trevor Siemian once torched the Chiefs for 368 passing yards, three touchdowns and no picks, or that Kansas City’s defense is built of smoke and mirrors and there to be had. Don’t tell the Broncos. They need the haters. Nobody believes in them.
“You’ve got nothing to lose,” Dr. Statler said. “If nobody expects you to perform well, then it's 'great, that was awesome.' There’s no harm to your ego. There’s a lot less pressure.”
This game looks like a game the Broncos already played, against the Giants, but in reverse. New York was down at wide receiver; Denver’s down Emmanuel Sanders. New York’s offense was a mess; Denver’s offense has two touchdowns in the month of October. And October’s almost over.
“This has been going on for 2-3 years where it’s like, ‘What’s up with the offense?’” Sanders said in a spicy interview with Orange & Blue 760 AM. “We’ve got to get our stuff together.”
The Giants won that game, by the way, 23-10. As Broncos-Giants showed, NFL teams are pretty much the same aside from the quarterback.
“This game is absolutely urgent. I wouldn’t lie to you guys. It should be urgent,” coach Vance Joseph said. “It’s a must-win.”
Back to Talib. He let loose on the media but wants to join one day. I had to know: which platform are you considering?
“I’m thinking more TV. Show my smile. Share my knowledge of the game,” Talib said.
He'll be so good on TV. But you know that’s a serious paycut, right?
“I’m demanding whatever D-Ware and Prime are making,” Talib said.
The Broncos might have a chance on Monday night at Kansas City with DeMarcus Ware and Deion Sanders.
But nobody believes in them. This will be the Chiefs in a tomahawk chop.