|10-16-2005, 08:00 AM||#1|
...there ain't no devil
Join Date: Aug 2005
MSNBC.com's expert views....
Sorry if any of this was already posted, needed somewhere to put my mind, so buzzed and if I don't relax I'll start pounding beers and it's only 8am...
So if it has been posted, trash it!
Patriots (3-2) at Broncos (4-1)
Another tough game for the Patriots, another tough game for the Broncos, another tough game to pick.
The Broncos have impressed me, going 4-1 against some tough teams. They play good defense, putting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.
The difference for the Broncos so far on offense is that they have avoided making mistakes and turnovers. That won’t continue, especially against Bill Belichick’s team.
The Patriots will get worn down more as the season goes on. The toll of facing a tough schedule and the stress of trying to three-peat will wear these players down as the season goes along. But it hasn’t happened yet, and Tom Brady and the Pats will figure out a way to beat the Broncos.
Broncos have the horses to go far in playoffs
Denver looks much improved heading into stern test against New England
ASK THE NFL EXPERT
By Don Pierson
Updated: 9:52 a.m. ET Oct. 14, 2005
Now it’s the Denver Broncos’ turn. They are the latest roadblock in the rocky schedule of the New England Patriots. Not only can the Broncos bring the Super Bowl champions to an ordinary 3-3 level, they can stay firmly atop the AFC West at 5-1.
Because a fast start is a Denver staple, the Broncos don’t yet know how good they are. But they do know they are at least lucky after playing three games in a row without a turnover.
“No, you don’t have to talk about it,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You don’t have to put the whammy on us.”
No turnovers is a guarantee for success. It’s also a universal recipe that is nearly impossible to follow.
The Broncos are home for the fourth time in five weeks, so they know this is a good time to produce. The Patriots are on the road for the fourth time in five weeks — at Carolina, at Pittsburgh, at Atlanta, at Denver. So far, they are 2-1 while also losing to San Diego in their only home stop during the stretch.
A 4-1 record is nothing new for the Broncos. They were 4-1 in each of the past three seasons, only to fail to make the playoffs in 2002 and suffer lopsided first-round playoff losses to Indianapolis the past two seasons.
Although Broncos fans know to withhold a measure of enthusiasm until January, a win over the Patriots on Sunday would provide a nice springboard for playing four of their next six games on the road — at the Giants, at Oakland, at Dallas, at Kansas City.
The Broncos lost to the Patriots 30-26 in Denver two years ago, so there is payback involved. It was on a Monday night and the Broncos led 26-23 until Tom Brady hit David Givens for the winning touchdown pass with 36 seconds to play.
”It’s always nice to go up against a team that has been very good,” Shanahan said. “Obviously the last time we played them, it was a very close game. I think our football team is looking forward to playing them. They always find a way to win, get the job done. That’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Quarterback Jake Plummer was injured for that game and never has played against the Patriots. Danny Kanell subbed.
Tatum Bell wasn’t around either. He’s the latest designated Broncos’ running back. Against former Broncos’ running back Clinton Portis and the Washington Redskins last week, Bell had touchdown runs of 34 and 55 yards and gained 127 yards in only 12 carries.
No Broncos’ back had gained 100 yards on so few carries since Portis got 129 in 12 carries in 2003. It was the Broncos’ special way of sticking it to Portis, who was traded for cornerback Champ Bailey before last season.
Bell doesn’t even start. He’s been hampered by injuries since he was a second-round draft pick last year (like Portis in 2002).
Mike Anderson starts at running back. He was a sixth-round pick, like former Bronco superstar Terrell Davis. No team plugs in capable running backs as quickly and seamlessly as the Broncos. Their leading rusher last year, Reuben Droughns, was deemed expendable and traded to Cleveland for defensive linemen Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers. Droughns leads the Browns in rushing, but his 276 yards and 3.9-yard average pales in comparison to Bell’s 281 yards and 6.2 average and Anderson’s 301 yards and 4.1 average.
”Mike is still the starter, so obviously he’s doing something I’m not doing,” Bell said. “I just have to keep working. I don’t want to just be a one-game wonder. I want to be the starter.”
The Broncos also have resurrected the career of former Heisman Trophy running back Ron Dayne, who languished on the New York Giants’ bench before signing in Denver as a free agent. He has only 13 carries so far, but his 4.1-yard average is much better than his 3.5 career number in five seasons in New York. His time will come in Denver.
Plummer is hoping for the same kind of rejuvenation. He remains the key to Denver’s postseason chances. The Broncos were the only team in the NFL last season to finish among the top five teams in both offensive and defensive production. It didn’t help them beat the Colts, but it tells them they have at least the foundation of a very good team.
In six seasons in Arizona, Plummer threw more touchdown passes than interceptions only one year. He’s done it both years in Denver and although he currently has only one touchdown pass and two interceptions, he has just completed the second three-game stretch of his career without a pick. The first was last season.
Having missed two previous games against New England because of injury — the game two years ago and a 1999 encounter in Arizona — Plummer has an opportunity to test himself against the best. It will provide at least a snapshot of possibilities to come.
The Broncos are 0-3 in playoff games since quarterback John Elway retired following his second straight Super Bowl win in 1998. Shanahan has put together four winning seasons in six without Elway, but has gained a reputation as a “Teflon” coach immune to criticism. The natives aren’t likely to remain restful forever.
”I think we have a little bit more depth now than we did over the past couple years,” Shanahan said. “We just need to stay healthy, play at a higher level, and win some of those close games.”
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