Denver Broncos blog, news and rumors

The Prediction

Page 5 of 5

Denver Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller (58) chases down Seattle Seahawks running back Justin Forsett (20) during their pre-season NFL football game in Denver August 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

The Broncos still have problems, the greatest being their run defense. The interior of that defensive line is still full of retreads; middle linebacker Joe Mays truly has his work cut out for him. All five positions on the offensive line come with questions as well. (Will Ryan Clady return to form? Can the interior guys improve from a year ago? Is rookie Orlando Franklin ready to start 16 games at the NFL level?).

But there’s a lot of talent on this team, too. A lot more than national “experts” may notice.

The problem is, this talent only goes one level deep. It’s a side effect of rebuilding. The talent gap between the Broncos’ starters and backups is wide and dramatic. The Broncos have done a good job acquiring youthful, skilled players (three promising rookies starting from Week One, and a fourth, Julius Thomas, who figures to see the field early and often), but their depth is lacking. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” as the saying goes, and neither was a football dynasty.

And make no mistake, John Elway has his sights on nothing less. That’ll take time. As ugly as the word is, the Broncos are in a “rebuild.”

So, more than any season in recent memory — more even than the injury-plagued disaster of 2010 — the 2011 Denver Broncos are at the mercy of the injury bug. This offseason and preseason, the bug has been relatively kind, but the Broncos need the following players to both stay healthy and excel in order to make the playoffs:

  • Kyle Orton
  • Ryan Clady
  • Elvis Dumervil
  • Von Miller
  • Champ Bailey

If all of these players finish the season with 14+ healthy starts… If Ryan Clady and Elvis Dumervil return to pre-2010 form… If Kyle Orton takes the next step… If Champ Bailey maintains his form and if Von Miller fulfills his promise… we’re talking about an 11-win Broncos football team.

11 wins. Imagine that.

But, you might have noticed, that’s a lot of “If’s.” No single one of those “If’s” is outside the realm of possibility, but banking on all of them coming true is foolhardy.

Sports Authority Field at Mile High

The Rundown: Let’s look at the Denver Broncos 2011 schedule and predict the wins and losses, one game at a time. They’ll start hot with an easier schedule but cool off before the bye. They go 3-0 against the Raiders, Bengals and Titans before falling to the Super Bowl champion Packers and the Chargers at home. 3-2 at the bye.

They win against Miami and Detroit before losing four straight – at Oakland, at Kansas City, vs. the Jets, and at San Diego. They’re 5-6 heading into Minnesota and pull out a squeaker. The Broncos are .500, 6-6, when Jay Cutler and the Bears come into town, and while I feel like I’m betraying some sort of Broncos trust by saying this, I think they lose to the defending NFC North champs. They upset the Patriots at home then blow a December road game in Buffalo before finishing with a home win against the Chiefs.

The Prediction: The 2011 Denver Broncos will finish 8-8, tied for 2nd in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The dreadful season that was 2010 will be redeemed. The Broncos will return to relative relevance. But it will take them at least another offseason to rebuild, and reconquer.

How many games will the Denver Broncos win in 2011?

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  • LarryB

    Just a great analysis, Monty! I, too, was extremely worried about the depth on the team. Two developments, however, gave me cause for some comfort: (1) The reserves allowed only two (2) yards a carry in the last preseason game, and (2) the Broncos added only one player from outside after the final cuts, and none from the waiver wire – which indicated to me that the Broncos have more faith in their reserves than we do.

    This is reinforced by the fact that, although the Cardinals passed the Broncos dizzy, the Cardinals played their first string against the Broncos reserves through much of the first half. In addition, Dumervil, Ayers, Miller, Champ, Goodman, Dawkins, and Moore were all missing from the lineup, which likely will not happen during the season (GASP! I hope not!). So the depth just might be a bit stronger than perhaps we believe?

    Regarding Orton, it is easy to think he “fades,” come the latter part of the season. However, take note that the St. Louis game last year happened in mid-November, and he passed for 347 yards and three TDs IN THE FOURTH QUARTER, coming within a whisker of coming back from 19 down to a win.

    So it wasn’t a “fade,” but a SUDDEN fall, indicating something was suddenly very wrong. What was wrong, of course, was severe rib injury – to BOTH sides, as it turned out.

    So I anticipate a truly breakout season for Kyle. He was on his way in his first 11 games last year, and there is no reason he can’t improve even on that with a better running game and the addition of a couple bonafide pass-catching tight ends.

    I have them 10-6, barring injury to the players you listed. Kool-aid? Well, we’ll see . . .

  • Monty

    Thanks for the kind words and great insight yourself, LarryB! Orton has suffered those sudden falls his entire career, though. I certainly hope this year is different.

  • Monty

    BTW everybody I changed my profile name from “Kyle Montgomery” to this (Monty). Same guy. Hi.

  • Bucky

    Man I wish either of you were right on this, and maybe I will be proved wrong, but the big IF that you laid out there about Orton is just to big an IF for me. I have the unique pleasure of being a Colorado boy who went to college in Chicago during the Orton/Grossman fiasco. And while I will continue to hope that there is simply some magic hump that Orton can get over, I just don’t see it. I think we have seen the top of his game, and that top just isn’t good enough to be a franchise/dynasty kind of QB. 

    I don’t know if we have a guy on our team who is. kinda funny how we have three Quarterbacks all needing to get past that one magic mark to be “elite.” If we could take and jam all three of these guys into one QB we would have a super stud, but we can’t and because of that I am more inclined to put us at 7-9 or 6-10 than I am at 8-8, I would certainly not bet a dime on 10-6.

    But hey, here is hoping for the IF’s I guess!   

  • Blsd30

    sounds about right but i think we win against buffalo for sure and 1 of the charger game putting us at 10-6.

  • Jon

    Hi, Monty!

  • Rc_sodak

    So when you tell us everything, will it be considered the ‘full monty’?

  • Monty

    I bare all.

  • Shamzami

    As much as I like the Broncos, after seeing what I’ve seen I have a bad feeling that they’ll be embarrassed by Oakland on Monday night and won’t win more than 4-5 games this year, which is okay.  The team is by no means set at any position and our quarterback is suspect at best.  So drink the Orange Koolaid if you want, but don’t be surprised to see them struggle most of the year and build on that.  In a couple of years we may have a team that compete, but this team is light years away from that.

  • Hansen

    Speaking of full monty, I thought it was interesting how you changed your id after those rather, shall we say, unsavory photos of you surfaced on that “other” site.

    Seriously, good analysis.

  • Anonymous

    I’m never going to be in love with Orton but at least he has shown a noted desire to be in that spot with out question and pretty much shown it on the field as well.

    I still think we will have more to worry about than who is back up is. I wonder if being 7-9 or 8-8 and missing the play-offs is better than 4-12 and missing them??? Either is missing them ~shrug~… I think all of these “if’s” are the ssame as saying “if” we still had this guy or that guy we’d be better off, we dont and not all of those guys are going to start even 14 at the same time. History shows other wise. but “IF” we do, then there is that chance.

    What would be really cool though would be to turn it all around and get in by winning the division, that would be pretty exciting. Hey I can dream… right?!?

  • 5280

    I love this piece Monty keep it up.  Honestly Im kind of shocked that Julius thomas isnt starting week one.  From what Ive seen at camp and in preseason, he’s definitely ready. dude can catch everything and fells had way to many drops.  Like you said though: there are far too many uncertainties to predict anything really. we wont know what we have until 6 or 7 weeks into the season.  I’m just praying von and doom stay healthy.  tackles or not, if von and doom stay healthy, we’ll at least own 3rd down and the team that owns 3rd down is usually the one that wins the game. IMO its all about the D this year. say what you want about the Oline and the running game, if the D doesnt step up in a major way this year its another 4-12 season.

  • Monty

    Thanks 5280, glad you like it.

    I agree, defense is everything this year. I’m feeling good about the pass defense, with Doom, Von, Champ and a handful of other solid guys. The run defense has me worried. Guess we’ll find out Monday; you KNOW the Raiders will try to run that ball on us.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I had comments I’ve forgotten as I read…

    Two points I think though.
    With Baily at nickle, Vaughn’s skills/health are critical.

    Our Safeties are also a HUGE issue. Can Moore play with starters? AND if he gets hurt, who has the speed to replace him? Nobody. – Bdawk? Lost a step for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I had comments I’ve forgotten as I read…

    Two points I think though.
    With Baily at nickle, Vaughn’s skills/health are critical.

    Our Safeties are also a HUGE issue. Can Moore play with starters? AND if he gets hurt, who has the speed to replace him? Nobody. – Bdawk? Lost a step for sure.