The edit staff at my occasional other posting home, Sports by Brooks, caught Mike Shanahan promising a playoff berth for the Denver Broncos this season on talk radio this week. I’m hoping he’s right; I’m just not that optimistic right now. Fortunately, they’ve addressed some of their problems in the safety area by signing Marlon McCree away from the Chargers, but at the cost of John Lynch, who wouldn’t accept a reduced role and will be leaving town.
My personal concern is less with the team’s defense right now than with the offensive end: we don’t know what’s going to happen to Brandon Marshall in terms of possible discipline for off-field matters, and that makes the team’s wide receiver corps kind of thin. Selvin Young is back, too, and could build on the form that made Travis Henry expendable after one year. Shanahan always finds a top rusher out of nowhere if he falls flat, but I want to see the offense get going before I feel confident enough to say they’re going to play into January.
I have fewer concerns about Jay Cutler than a lot of others; I think the inconsistencies will work themselves out — he’ll continue to get better and avoid the badly-timed pick, it’s really a question of what and who are around him. The offensive line is in transition, it should be reliable enough for him.
I’m also looking at the schedule: there are four games the team should be able to win against KC and Oakland, but it’d be a minor miracle if we eke out a split with San Diego. More games we could lose: hosting the Saints, Bucs, and Jaguars. Going to Foxboro to play the Pats is asking a lot, same with Cleveland, which has upped its game in the off-season. We should be able to handle Miami, Carolina, the Jets, and Buffalo. It could be as good as 12-4 and we could be looking at .500.
Regardless, right now, I see the Chargers winning the division and we’ll have to scrap and claw for a wild card with teams from a loaded AFC South and North — we’d have to battle the Jags, Steelers, Browns, and Titans for one of those two slots.