The "Power Core" Pre-Season Power Rankings #17
Denver's season was over as quickly as Ed McCaffrey hit the ground after a thunderous collision in the opening game on Monday Night Football. Injuries plagued this team all year. Brian Griese threw 19 interceptions, Rod Smith played with a sore back and neither Mike Anderson, Terrel Davis nor Orlandis Gary produced an injury free season.
#17 Denver Broncos (8 - 8) tThird in AFC West
The Broncos have all of the weapons to make a serious run at the playoffs. The main focus will be on Ed McCaffrey's return from a broken leg and Brian Griese never ending public troubles. Mike Shanahan's magic touch seems to be fading, while Al Davis smiles in Oakland.
The Good: Rod Smith is still an All Pro and the return of Shannon Sharpe gives a lethal red-zone threat. He also is well loved in the Denver area by the players and fans alike and should have a great influence in the locker room. Say what you want, but Sharpe has won wherever he went. Griese can be an effective quarterback because he's probably one of the smartest in the league. He also normally has above-average accuracy. Ashley Lelie wasn't a necessary pick but he gives Griese another deep weapon to play with.
The Bad: Someone needs to give this team a consistent running attack. Just a few years ago, no one ever thought that the Broncos would be questioning their running game when you had Anderson, Gary and Davis in the backfield. Bill Romanowski moved on and while I won't miss him when he retires, he brought an attitude and mentality to the Bronco defense. Denver's hex on Oakland seems to have faded with the 1990's and perhaps that same mental strangle hold is shifting into Denver's head. Denver didn't draft out of necessity and that means that they think an injury-free season will send them deep to the playoffs. Maybe so, but the pecking order in the AFC is much longer now and I can name a number of teams ahead of the Broncos. Griese needs to stay out of the public spotlight and concentrate on the fundamentals. Maybe he should have his papa's Dolphins sit him down and have long talk.
The Ugly: Bill Romanowski defects to Denver's mortal enemy the Oakland Raiders. It just goes to show you how loyalty means crap in the NFL.
Synopsis: Denver should be fighting for a playoff spot into the final weekend, but I just don't think this team has what it takes to repeat the success of the Super Bowl years. Those years the big difference was not Smith, McCaffrey or Davis, but a simple man named Elway. 8 – 9 wins should do the trick.