Happy New Year’s weekend, friends. Today, we re-digest the Kansas City Chiefs, hoping to avoid the rare situation of going 3-0 on the road in the AFC West, and 0-3 at home. Everybody knows this, I think, but if the Broncos win on Sunday, they’ll be division champions. If they lose, and the Raiders lose to San Diego, the Broncos would still back into winning the division. We shouldn’t be counting on that to happen, though, because the Raiders have a habit of beating San Diego, having taken 3 in a row from the Chargers. It’s a tough matchup for the Chargers, and it served as the first hint that their grip on the AFC West was slipping.
The Broncos, however, match up very well with Kansas City, and these matchup situations are a big part of what makes the AFC West interesting and competitive. (No, dumbass ESPN people – having a dominant team, two average teams, and a hopeless loser isn’t more interesting than having 4 closely matched teams in a division race, even if none of the closely matched teams are likely to compete for a Super Bowl. First things first.) The Broncos are a craptastic performance by Kyle Orton from last December away from having won 3 in a row against the Chiefs. The Broncos defend the Chiefs well, and their running game works really well against the Chiefs defense too.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I have limited time today, due to a confluence of continuing holiday activities and the continuation of my year-end financial close, so I’m just going to share some observations from my fantastic trip to Buffalo on Saturday.
a. It’s really pretty funny, but Tim Tebow looked great in warmups before the game, and during the game. Whenever he was just making throws in non-game situations, the throws were perfectly on-target, and his delivery looked excellent. Didn't his reputation used to be that he couldn't make a throw in warmups? Maybe it was bizarro Tim on Saturday – good in practice, shaky in the fourth quarter of actual games?
Seriously, though, of the interceptions I witnessed in person, there were three flavors of them. The first one was a good decision and a very good job extending the play, but a terrible overthrow of Demaryius Thomas. The second pick was a case of staring down Eric Decker and not looking off a Cover-1 Safety; Tebow needs to get better at looking away from the intended receiver, because Decker had his corner beat, and the throw was good, if Jairus Byrd isn’t able to jump it.
Happy Friday, friends. Today, we digest the formerly ascendant Buffalo Bills, who have lately been pretty descendant. In fact, they’ve lost seven in a row and are 5-9. They've won two blowouts, lost four, and are 3-4 in close games. It’s been a weird season.
Really, the 5-2 start was the case of a team with below-average talent and no depth overachieving on the strength of excellent coaching and good early health. The good health significantly disappeared, some marginal players had to play, defenses started playing to take away the short passing game, and the overachievement ended. After the jump, we’ll explore the Bills in detail.
Happy Monday, friends. Even after a loss on Sunday, the Broncos are in very strong shape to make the playoffs as either the AFC West champion or as a Wild Card. Winning games in your division is of major importance, but winning ones in your conference ends up being very helpful to tiebreakers, as well. Let's examine the various paths the Broncos have into the postseason. The Broncos have earned their strong position by winning in the division, and by beating teams like Cincinnati and the Jets within the conference.
You can test these and other scenarios using ESPN's Playoff Machine, which is pretty cool.
Happy Friday, friends. It’s time to Digest the New England Patriots. This isn’t the same Patriots team that we’re used to, and the Broncos obviously aren’t the same Broncos team that Tom Brady and company are used to losing to, so it should be very interesting.
Off the top, it’s interesting that the Patriots are seven-point favorites on the road against a team that has won six straight games. I almost never talk about betting lines, because I don’t believe in betting on sports, but this is an interesting bit of narrative psychology to me. The media has set a narrative around the Broncos such that Joe Six-pack is led to believe that there was some magic happening, and a plucky QB who loves his Jesus was behind it, but just wait until the Tebows play the Bradys. The Tebows will come back to Earth. People are betting heavy for the Patriots, obviously, I think because they think in terms of media narratives.
Of course, I think conflating a whole team with its QB is completely stupid. There’s so much happening on a football field on any play that it’s silly to just focus on who’s throwing the ball. As always, today, we’re going to explore the rest of the story.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’ve had some unexpected professional challenges/opportunities come up that have had me working day and night lately, while simultaneously finishing a semester up in my MBA program, and it’s briefly messed up my writing schedule. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to deliver a Digesting article on Friday, but I’m optimistic about doing one for this week.
For today, I’m going short blog-post style, on a topic that seems to be flummoxing the whole football watching world. Why is Tim Tebow so much better in the 4th quarter of games? I know the answer to this question, and I’m going to share it with you today. It’s a matter of seeing the forest through the trees, and looking back to Tebow’s time at Florida to understand the phenomenon.
First, let’s start with a thought exercise. Based on Tebow’s skill set, what’s the best approach that the Broncos can take to being successful on offense? Consider personnel groupings, play-calling, and overall philosophy. Really consider this, and get the answer in your head.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’ve gotten some requests to do a Digesting piece on the Broncos, and I decided that I’d do one today. I’m in the process of writing a very lengthy paper for my marketing class that’s due on Wednesday, so I need something
a bit shorter than usual (not so much, as it turned out) for the site today. I figure that I can go short medium-to-long, and still make some people happy. Ready… BEGIN!!
I’ve obviously watched every snap that the Broncos have taken this year, at least three times. Where I can get a good sense of an opponent by watching a game or two, I would hope that I have a great sense of the Broncos. Here goes.
Happy Friday, friends. It’s time to Digest the Minnesota Vikings, who despite their 2-9 record have a bit of power behind their punches, and can knock you out if you don’t come correct. They’re lining up to have a very high draft pick in 2012, and I think that they can have a pretty quick turnaround in 2012 assuming they pick wisely, and their young QB improves. For now, though, let’s take a look at them in their current state.
Generally, I’d say that the Vikings profile kind of similarly to the Broncos in some important ways. To wit:
a. Both teams start young QBs who can look good one play and bad the next.
b. Both teams struggle to protect the passer in the straight-up dropback passing game, but both can get the running game blocked a lot of the time.
c. Both teams can rush the passer creditably from both edges, although the Vikings’ second-best guy (Brian Robison) is not really close to the Broncos’ (Elvis Dumervil) level.
d. Both teams have a good set of DTs who stuff the run well, and both teams’ LB corps are better against the run than in coverage.
Happy Victory Tuesday, friends. Are you getting used to Victory Tuesdays, yet? I kind of like them, personally. Those of you who had your hearts set on a Top-5 pick may not, but football is funny. Players and coaches like to win, and they try really hard to make that happen, and sometimes they get it done, even if some find it to be strategically unpreferable. In this space, we’re always pro-#winning, so deal with it. Ready… BEGIN!!
1. Today, I want to share some thoughts about why the Broncos are winning, and why it has seemed like a tale of two seasons. There are a number of reasons for it, and it qualifies as a confluence of all of those reasons. I’m one guy with an opinion, but here’s my list:
a. It took a little while, but the team has taken very well to the new defensive scheme. The Broncos tried to use even-front players in a Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 scheme for two seasons and didn’t have great results. This staff came in and installed an aggressive 4-3 that has a very simple and sound approach to gap control.
Happy Fat Man Friday, friends. On Sunday, the Broncos will plays the Chargers for the second time this season. What’s changed since October 9th? Well, on the surface, the answer is everything. Tim Tebow took over the Broncos offense in the second half of that game, with his team trailing 23-10 and looking sluggish. Tebow then rallied the team to fall just short of winning at 29-24, as a pass into the end zone on the game’s final play was nearly caught by Matt Willis in the typical Hail Mary crowd. On that day, the Chargers improved to 4-1, and the Broncos fell to 1-4.
Since then, the Broncos are 4-1 on the strength of an improved defense and running game, as well as some timely plays by Tebow. The Chargers are 0-5 in that same period and have gotten really banged up in the process. I can’t see any way that their season isn’t over, in terms of playoff meaning, at this point.