DENVER • First prediction of the 2019 NFL season: the Broncos aren’t done quarterback shopping. Or is Joe Flacco’s backup still in the house?

“I’m loosening up right now,” coach Vic Fangio joked, rotating his throwing shoulder.

Tom Brady, 42, has nothing on the 61-years-young Fangio.

The Broncos on Saturday cut more quarterbacks (Kevin Hogan, Brett Rypien) than they kept (Flacco, the starter). With rookie Drew Lock and his bum thumb headed to Injured Reserve, according to John Elway, the Broncos need a backup for Flacco. Is it divine intervention the Vikings cut Rocky Mountain favorite, ex-Bronco Kyle Sloter? A fanbase that never forgets can dream.

“Good thing is we have an extra day or two (since Game 1 is on a Monday),” Elway said.

Bad thing is, predicting the NFL is like predicting Colorado’s weather. We’re paid to be wrong.

Oh, well. Here goes nothin’...

• NFC title game: Cowboys over Vikings. AFC title game: Steelers over Chiefs.

• Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2, 2020: Cowboys over Steelers. Talk about a hot ticket.

• Pass-rusher Malik Reed is the next Phillip Lindsay. Both made the Broncos as undrafted free agents. Both made the team thanks to their fiery dispositions. Both are smashing the odds.

“He (Reed) is the right kind of guy with the right kind of temperament,” Fangio said.

• Old friend Aqib Talib scores two interceptions to tie Rod Woodson for the most pick-sixes in league history (12). If his Rams win Super Bowl LIV, Talib told an ex-Broncos teammate, he will consider retirement. And then we await the Aqib Talib Hall of Fame speech the world needs.

• Speaking of, the smart NFL team is one that camps at Air Force. First, the Patriots practiced at the academy, lost in the Super Bowl, then won the Super Bowl. Next, the Rams practiced here, lost in the Super Bowl and... is a favorite to win Super Bowl LIV. Just saying, Broncos.

• Falcon High grad and Peyton native Kalen Ballage eclipses 1,000 rushing yards with the Dolphins. Sharing a backfield at Arizona State actually boosted his NFL hopes; fewer carries in college equates to fresher legs in the pros. Call it the opposite-of-Montee-Ball career path.

• Credit the Raiders for seeing through Brandon Marshall’s phony act when they cut the ex-Bronco on Friday. Same for the Ravens and Shane Ray, who also got clipped. Gazette readers saw their true colors in this space for years. What took the Broncos so long?

• Peyton Manning’s “Peyton’s Places” wins an Emmy. His chat with Brett Favre — while driving through Green Bay in the convertible awarded to Bart Starr at Super Bowl I — is priceless TV.

Manning: “You got a street named after you?”

Favre: “I think it’s an alley.”

ESPN-plus. Check it out.

• Broncos sophomore Bradley Chubb is a top-three vote-getter for defensive player of the year. Von Miller went from 11 to 18.5 sacks in Year 2. Chubb goes from 12 sacks to a quarterback menace and household name in his.

• Do Frank Gore and Tom Brady share dietary secrets? Asking for a friend. While running backs share a shelf life with milk, Gore is 36 and still charging. He needs 522 yards to pass Barry Sanders as the NFL’s No. 3 rusher. It will happen in Week 11 when Gore’s Bills host the Broncos.

• “Colin Kaepernick blackballed by the NFL” is football’s Russian collusion. Kaepernick won’t be on a team, again, because a franchise that signs him angers half its fanbase and loses money. Rule No. 1: follow the dough. Consider his absence a business decision, then and now.

• Joe Flacco throws 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his first season as the Broncos quarterback — his seasonal average over 11 seasons in Baltimore. Just as the Broncos got the same Manning, they’ll get the same Flacco.

• U.S. Women’s National Team stud Carli Lloyd becomes the first woman to kick in the NFL — during the 2020 preseason. Imagine the jersey sales.

• All streaks must end, and the Broncos end their seven-game winning streak in season openers, at Oakland on Sept. 9. Come to think of it, the last time the Broncos lost an opener was against the Raiders — 23-20, at home, in 2011.

• Love the Fangio hire. Love the top-shelf talent, starting with Chubb and Miller. Loathe the lack of depth and second-toughest schedule in the NFL.

The Broncos are still one good draft away from a postseason return, but a fast start to this season is critical either way. After football’s longest training camp — 56 preseason days — will some Broncos check out against a hellish post-bye schedule late in a long season (at Vikings, at Bills, Chargers, at Texans, at Chiefs)? I see 7-9, and more (backup) quarterback shopping on the horizon.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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