Gut Reactions

Immediate analysis of NFL games and news

Gut Reaction: Week 16 - Broncos @ Texans

In an era of passing gunslingers and greatness, nothing is supposed to surprise us any longer.

Records are broken to be made to be broken--again and again. But let's consider what Peyton Manning has just done.

51 touchdowns and counting--in a Broncos uniform, no less.

Even if he doesn't throw another touchdown all year (which he will), that's over three touchdowns a game, for sixteen games. It's breakable, but you'd better bring your rabbit's foot, a lunchbox, and an army of Pro Bowl receivers.

What's left unbroken?  The Broncos hold on the overall number one seed.

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Gut Reaction: Week 15 - Broncos vs Chargers

It’s no secret why the Broncos lost tonight.

The Chargers converted half of their third downs.

The Broncos converted only a whisper of two.

It’s really that simple. You can take the time of possession, the big plays, the stupid penalties—all of it pales in comparison to the fundamental fact that you can’t string a drive together without converting on third downs. Of course, the converse is also true. You can’t stop a drive without stopping your opponent on third down.

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Gut Reaction: Week 14 - Broncos vs Titans

Peyton Manning can’t throw in cold weather—unless he can.

That’s the narrative now. Although the temperature hovered around a frigid five degrees for most of the game, the Broncos offense—and Manning in particular—created a blaze so hot, the Titans needed treatment for third-degree burns.

Make no mistake: the Broncos had two plans in this game. The first was to win the game, which they did handily, 51-28. The second was to send a message to the rest of the league: Peyton Manning can not only play in cold weather, he can torch you.

If you’re coming into Denver late in the year, you'd better believe in Santa Claus. That’s because Peyton Manning is Jack Frost. 

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Gut Reaction: Week 13 - Broncos @ Chiefs

Wait, don’t the Chiefs win games like this at home?

Turning turnovers into touchdowns, taking kickoffs back for touchdowns, breaking off big runs—these are the things that define the Chiefs.

It doesn’t matter, not when Peyton Manning comes to town, even when Manning breaks bad for a quarter. Manning’s mind is just too good. His arm (no matter how wobbly the passes) simply follows.

The Broncos now stand in sole possession of first place in the AFC West; even better, they are in complete control of their own destiny. If they want the first seed, they can do more than wish for it for Christmas.

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Gut Reaction: Week 12 - Broncos @ Patriots

Welcome to my sixth rewrite in the last twenty minutes.

This was supposed to be a story about Petyon Manning and Tom Brady dueling; it was supposed to be about two teams playing until the bitter end; hell, it was supposed to be about the near perfection of the Broncos running game.

Instead, we’re going to be talking about bouncing balls for a whole damn week.

Actually, I should probably be more specific. Wes Welker didn’t give Tony Carter enough time to clear a bouncing punt, which now makes Tony Carter look really dumb. 

What a letdown, and what a silly way to lose a game.  There’s just no rewriting that.

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Gut Reaction: Week 11 - Broncos vs Chiefs

It’s simple: keep Peyton Manning clean, the Broncos win.

It’s true when he’s healthy. It’s true when he’s feeling a little average. And it’s true when his ankle is as hurt as an Alex Smith checkdown.

The Broncos just restored order to the NFL with their 27-17 win, which could have been a lot more lopsided. The NFL simply can’t have teams like the Chiefs masquerading around like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

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Gut Reaction: Week 10 - Broncos @ Chargers

Pat Bowlen, welcome to the Three Hundred Club.

With the Broncos' 28-20 win this afternoon, Bowlen became the second fastest owner in NFL history to reach three hundred wins (Al Davis had to beat Bowlen at something).

The dude has seen a lot in his three decades as owner—John Elway, Peyton Manning, Super Bowls, and everything in between.

Three hundred wins has to rank right up there—until he gets to 301.

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Gut Reaction: Week 8 - Denver vs. Washington

For as much scoring as the Broncos did in the fourth quarter, this game proved one thing:

Their defense is only getting better.

The Broncos bumped, pushed, and otherwise beat the hell out of Robert Griffin on their way to a 45-21 victory. Sacks don’t tell the story, although they did get to Griffin three times.

Jack Del Rio’s strategy of shadowing Griffin with Von Miller turned out to be just the right strategy. Griffin couldn’t put his strength—running out of the pocket—on display. And when he tried, there were orange jerseys waiting for him.

Now comes the bye week. The defense not only gets better, they get healthier too. And that should scare the rest of the league.

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Gut Reaction: Week 7 - Broncos @ Colts

The Broncos weren’t who we thought they were.

Instead of passing, they ran; instead of keeping the ball, they gave it away; instead of being aggressive, they were passive-aggressive—heavy on the passive coaching, heavy on the aggressive personal fouls.

The Colts' game plan was simple and recognizable, because it’s the same game plan the Jaguars used last week: press the Broncos at the line of scrimmage, play Cover 2 behind it, and force the Broncos into short passing gains. The Broncos took the bait. How many times did we see Manning float the ball tonight in the hopes of good things just happening downfield?

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Gut Reaction: Week 6 - Broncos vs Jaguars

The Broncos delivered an easy victory, 35-19. They held their opponent scoreless in the first and fourth quarters. They allowed fewer than a hundred rushing yards yet again.

Oh, did I mention they are 6-0?

Then why does this win feel like a loss?

I guess that’s what happens when expectations are set as high as the Rocky Mountains, when your team is setting scoring records, and finally, when fans want the sun, moon, and the Super Bowl.

We should probably get used to it.

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