DENVER — The Denver Not Sures finally, probably, hopefully will play the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
Twice the matchup has been rescheduled due to coronavirus issues with the Pats. Until the game kicks off in Foxboro, its official status must be considered Not Sure.
Same for the Broncos/Not Sures.
We both know what we’ll see from Bill Belichick and the Patriots. They’re the Sure Things. They will be sound in every possible way. They lost eight players to COVID-19 opt-outs and plugged a bunch of new players into the Patriot Programmer. The latest edition of the Pats is not so different than most editions before it: only 11 penalties over four games, the most disciplined mark in the NFL. Yes, the Pats are good again.
What will we see from the Broncos?
They are at the same time pointing up with the unmistakable potential of Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, KJ Hamler, Bradley Chubb ... while still losing games at a rate the franchise hasn’t seen since the 1960s. They proclaim they are committed to a turnaround... while $16 million running back Melvin Gordon goes out on the town and is arrested for DUI.
Are the Broncos on the precipice of a breakthrough ... or breaking down?
You could go on like this for a while. Is Vic Fangio a good coach, or simply a good coordinator? Not sure. He has fun football stories, a gruff and likable personality and a helpful perspective on delays caused by the coronavirus ... but he's 8-12 as a head coach.
“Some small businesses — people who have worked their whole lives to establish a business — are really struggling right now,” Fangio said. “Luckily, here in the NFL, so far as players and coaches, we haven’t missed any paychecks.”
Is Drew Lock worth building a team around? Not sure. The quarterback has been injured for more games than he’s been healthy. Was Chubb worth the No. 5 pick in the draft? Not sure. He had 2.5 sacks vs. the Jets ... after scoring only one sack in his previous 10 games.
Can the Broncos save their season at Gillette Stadium? Not sure. The Broncos have owned the Patriots through the years. John Elway, the quarterback, went 11-0 against New England. And the Broncos were the only team with a winning record (9-8) vs. Tom Brady, the Patriot. Broncos quarterbacks Brian Griese, Brock Osweiler and Kyle Orton beat Brady’s Pats. Will Lock prove to be superior to those three?
The Broncos dominated Cam Newton, the Panthers quarterback. They went 3-0 with 17 sacks and four interceptions of Newton. Can they replicate those comical numbers? Not sure. Von Miller, who is injured, was streaming video games Saturday instead of boarding the Broncos’ team plane. Von always took this matchup personally, believing he should have been the No. 1 pick in 2011, not Cam.
Despite a 1-3 start, there is optimism around Dove Valley — mostly for the future, mostly based on a 4-1 finish to the 2019 season. The game that offered hope was the win at Houston. The Texans were 8-point favorites at home. The Broncos won, 38-24. Now the Pats are 9-point favorites at home. The Pats are a sure thing.