Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) returns a interception of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) as strong safety T.J. Ward (43) blocks on a play called back by a penalty late in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos are about a touchdown underdog when it comes to the betting lines of their matchup in Seattle against the defending champion Seahawks. But if you ask a lot of devout fans, the Broncos have no chance.
The Broncos Twitter-sphere is filled with doubt and lingering effects of the Super Bowl. Yes, the Broncos were crushed 43-8. Yes, it was an embarrassment from the snap. And yes, this game is in Seattle, where the fans are the loudest of any football stadium in America.
This game, to the pessimists (who call themselves realists), is an impossible task for Denver. The Broncos haven’t played their best football through two games this season, at least in the second half, and have nearly given up fourth quarter leads to both the Colts and the Chiefs. The Seahawks are also coming home after a road loss to the San Diego Chargers.
The pessimist (aka ‘realist’) way of thinking is this: The Broncos haven’t been great this year, and the last time they played Seattle they were completely exposed and overmatched. The Seahawks are coming off of a loss on the road, so there’s no way a team playing average football can go into one of the toughest places to play in all of sports and get a win over a team that is fresh off a loss and still pretty fresh off giving our team an absolute drubbing of a lifetime in the Super Bowl.
Sound about right?
Oh, and I forgot, some would still take Russell Wilson over Andrew Luck. Because, ring.
But here’s the real deal, Broncos fans. This is not the Broncos team that was crushed in the Super Bowl. There are 17 different starters in place for this game. Let’s look at the list, and you tell me if the Broncos are better now than they were in February, or if they’re worse.
RB: Knowshon Moreno <–> Montee Ball
LT: Chris Clark <–> Ryan Clady
LG: Zane Beadles <–> Orlando Franklin
RT: Orlando Franklin <–> Chris Clark
WR: Eric Decker <–> Emmanuel Sanders
DE: Malik Jackson <–> Derek Wolfe
DE: Shaun Phillips <–> DeMarcus Ware
LB: Nate Irving <–> Von Miller
LB: Wesley Woodyard <–> Nate Irving
LB: Danny Trevathan <–> Brandon Marshall
CB: Champ Bailey <–> Aqib Talib
CB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie <–> Chris Harris Jr.
S: Mike Adams <–> Rahim Moore
S: Duke Ihenacho <–> T.J. Ward
K: Matt Prater <–> Brandon McManus
PR: Trindon Holliday <–> Isaiah Burse
KR: Whoever it was <–> Andre Caldwell
It’s pretty amazing when you see it all laid out like that, really. The Broncos are such a different team than they were in February, and it’s for the better. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware being out there together is huge, and Ware already leads the NFL in total QB pressures. The secondary improvements will be incredibly noticeable when you consider the Broncos were trotting out guys last year like Quintin Jammer and Michael Huff.
Did you remember Marquice Cole was on the Super Bowl roster?
As good as the Broncos were last year going 13-3 and winning the AFC, their roster was pretty ugly heading into the Super Bowl. Jeremy Mincey was a key player, and Tony Carter was one of the most solid options at cornerback.
Is it hard to see why that game was ugly?
Still, the fact remains that it will take a win and a win only to mask the pain that lingers from the Super Bowl loss. Broncos fans should at least have confidence that their team can go win a tough, early season road game with as good of health as they have now, especially so now that Wes Welker has returned to the lineup, and they have better speed overall offensively and defensively.
The Broncos have more than enough to win this game, and I think they will.