Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) after the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Riddle me this: What do preseason football and the Kardashians have in common? Give up? They both give you the illusion of being entertaining but they’re totally insignificant.
Cue up Richard Marx’s, “Don’t Mean Nothin” as the soundtrack for this article. So anybody who has read my work knows that I am less than enamored with preseason football. It’s not that I don’t love the game (and more specifically, the Denver Broncos). Let’s face it, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing for Predominantly Orange. Granted, the Broncos make it really enjoyable to tickle the qwerty keyboard and allow me and other writers to express our love and even discontent at times for our Broncos. Also, the off-season feels so long that I look forward to football’s return. That said, the preseason, metaphorically speaking, is nothing more than an exotic dancer teasing you in an effort to come between you and your dollars. I know, cynical, huh?
So the purpose of this article is to prove that the outcomes of these games for us fans are really insignificant; fun, but insignificant. Below are a few examples in which the exhibition season offered absolutely zero foreshadowing for the regular year to follow.
Indianapolis Colts (2006): As I recall, the Colts were led by a QB with the name of Peyton Manning (he has since had a change of address and a name modification: Peyton “Freakin” Manning or PFM). After a putrid 1-3 preseason, capped by a 20-3 home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Indy finished the season 12-4. Then they survived a gauntlet of brutal defenses in the post season in the form of the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. They then went on to defeat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17. ‘Nuff said!
Detroit Lions (2008): Talk about a tale of two seasons…The Lions posted a perfect 4-0 preseason record which started with a 13-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants. So how did they fair in the regular year? Well Detroit set a single-season mark for futility that can only be matched, but never broken (unless the regular season gets extended from 16 to 18 games as is being negotiated between the NFL and the NFLPA). If I may borrow from baseball vernacular, the Lions put up a golden sombrero: 0-16. ‘Nuff said again!
Now how about the team we really care about? Let us look at a couple of seasons in Broncos’ history that prove my point.
In the strike-shortened season of 1982, our beloved orange and blue cruised to a perfect 4-0 mark in the preseason. They then went on to finish the regular year with a 2-7 record; the worst of Dan Reeves‘ tenure as Broncos’ head coach. This was kind of a gray period for us. It was that empty, transitional year which bridged the Craig Morton and John Elway eras. Nonetheless, it proves my point.
Now for the flip side to 1982. That would be 9 years later and the 1991 edition of the Broncos. Denver finished the preseason at 2-3 but went on to a 12-4 regular season and an AFC West title. Furthermore, the great season would yield bigger thrills in the form of one of John Elway’s most memorable 4th quarter comebacks. That episode of Mile High magic resulted in a 26-24 divisional playoff victory over the Houston Oilers.
Is there any body out there who, like me, is old enough to remember the Oilers and those beautiful powder blue uniforms? Man, I miss them!
After the thriller against Houston, Denver traveled to the frozen tundra of Orchard Park, N.Y. to face the defending AFC Champions, the Buffalo Bills. Not expected to really even compete, the Broncos gave the 13-3 Bills all they could handle in a 10-7 loss. Three missed David Treadwell FGs and a Steve Sewell fumble inside the Buffalo 30 with under a minute left were all that came between the Broncos and another Super Bowl appearance.
I realize that this is only four examples of the meaninglessness in the outcomes of these games for us fans. However, I do recognize the importance for the coaches and players. Besides, I can find just as many 2-2 preseasons which were followed by 8-8 regular seasons.
Just look at this as my little “Kung Fu” lesson. No matter what our record is after the August 28th game in Dallas, don’t get too high and don’t get too low, Grasshopper. I think we’ll be just fine in 2014 either way.