Denver Broncos 2007 NFL Projection:
The Broncos suffered two terrible tragedies during the off-season; the deaths of Darrent Williams and Damien Nash.
Left was a void at cornerback filled by the arrival of Dre' Bly in the Tatum Bell deal. The Broncos also picked
up Sam Adams to help shore up the run defense.
On offense, Denver added Daniel Graham (a tremendous blocker) and Travis Henry (a much underrated player)
who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season in which he has started at least
14 games. Henry, in our opinion unfairly lost his starting job in Buffalo in 2004, which has
thrown a crimp in his career statistics...
Both were wise offensive pickups which should
help Jay Cutler in his first full season at quarterback.
And we do think he'll need a little help. Here's why...
Even though Cutler's numbers were better than Plummer's last season,
Plummer played against a much tougher strength of schedule, including at New England,
at Pittsburgh, versus Baltimore, versus San Diego, plus two games
versus a much improved Chiefs' defense... You might even consider two games
versus the Raiders as being versus tough defenses,
as the Raiders' defense only surrendered
332 points in 2007, all while being on the field for the majority of the season thanks to their inept offense.
Cutler on the other hand, in his five games,
played only once versus a tough defense (at San Diego). And while his rating was good, it mostly came
after the Chargers were leading 28-3...
Then there were two games versus the mediocre defenses of the Seahawks and Bengals, as well as two
games versus the porous defenses of the 49ers and Cardinals (both in the bottom
four in terms of points allowed on the season). Furthermore it was the games versus San Francisco
and Arizona which were the only two games Cutler went over
190 yards passing.
The point we're trying to illustrate is that we believe Jake Plummer unfairly lost his starting job
in Denver based on defensive strength of schedule faced, much the same way Drew Bledsoe lost his starting
job in Dallas...
Plummer was coming off some terrific seasons with the Broncos. So the question we have to ask is,
how long will it take for Cutler to play at the level Plummer played at during the majority of the time
he was with the Broncos, if at all?
Furthermore, it really wasn't Plummer's fault the Broncos didn't reach the Super Bowl during his tenure.
It was Denver's defense that couldn't stop Peyton Manning and the Colts in playoff games, not to mention
running into a Steelers' team that had everything go right during the playoffs.
Of course there could be a lot of upside to Cutler. But to be realistic,
there's never any guarantee that a new player is going to play as well as a player he replaced
over the long haul.
Okay so where does this leave the Broncos in 2007?
We think the Broncos took a step back at quarterback (at least in the short term), but also took a nice step forward at
running back and tight end, which of course will help Cutler to play better and could help to create
a wash scenario.
We also think the Broncos took a step forward on defense with the additions of Adams and Bly.
Unfortunately Ebenezer Ekuban has been lost for the season, thereby erasing gains made on the defensive
side of the ball... But in new news the Broncos have signed Simeon Rice. Sure he only had 2 sacks last
season in 8 games. But he did force 4 fumbles. If he can play anything like he did in 2005, then the
Broncos' defense should be in good shape.
Bottom line, while we still question the quarterback change, it certainly remains to be seen how Cutler will perform.
Cutler will certainly have his work cut out for him on many Sundays
as half of the Broncos games come against teams that had
legitimate defenses in 2006.
On the plus side,
the Broncos' other eight games are versus teams that aren't considered to be
very strong based on 2006's performances...
Of course the Broncos do have a solid team surrounding Cutler. So there are
plenty of opportunities to rack up the wins in 2007, and perhaps some nice stats.
However, our original prediction of a postseason trip was affected by the loss of
Ekuban. Will Simeon Rice pick up the slack?
Perhaps so, but we're still
penciling in the Broncos for a record of (10-6) in 2007.
That assumes they take care of business in the
eight games against lighter opponents at (8-0). If so, the Broncos would only have to go 2-6 versus
the stiffer competition to reach (10-6). That assumes a split with the
Chiefs, losing at Indy and losing at Chicago, and taking just
one of the two games versus Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.
If the Broncos can split with the Chargers, then a record of
(11-5) could be attained which ought to be good enough to make the playoffs, even in the tough AFC.
But if our league wide record predictions are accurate,
a record of (10-6) could keep Denver out of the postseason
due to the potentially solid records of several other AFC teams.
Key games in terms of playoff possibilities in our opinion
will be early season
home games versus Jacksonville, Pittsburgh,
and San Diego, as we see each of these 3 teams as being playoff worthy in 2007.
Even though the Broncos are historically strong at home,
keep an eye
Cutler in these three games before making any final decisions on whether or not you think
parting with Plummer was the right move or not...
View free weekly NFL game picks below for the 2007 Denver Broncos.
In the grid below are FootballLOCKS.com's preseason made straight up, non point spread NFL
projections for the 2007 Denver Broncos, displayed as predictions of which
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