6-3 is not 3-6! Where’s the love?
The Denver Broncos are 6-3.
So are the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals.
Two of those teams played for it all last season. One of those teams lost in Denver, one of them won here. Two of them are leading their divisions, and all of them have dropped games that should have been won.
None of them, however, is considered a bad team. They’re elite, jaw-dropping, media darlings. And not one of those teams has suffered a three-game losing streak.
Of course, not one of them has won six in a row. Not one of those special, shining examples of football has beaten three division leaders as Denver has. And none of them has a quarterback who has thrown fewer interceptions.
So after watching the Broncos’ offense sputter to fewer than zero passing yards in the second half after Kyle Orton’s injury, after witnessing No. 8 find deep, open receivers to the tune of almost 200 yards in the first 30 minutes against the top-rated pass defense in the NFL, after opening up 6-0, a feat described by most experts as more difficult than finding a sober Lindsay Lohan, please get off of Orton’s back.He’s our quarterback. Drowning in déjà vu as the Chargers clawed their way out of yet another three-game hole in the division hurts. So does dropping a game to the NFL’s favorite cellar of chaos, the Redskins. But the Steelers have faced similar shame at the hands of the Bears. New England lost to the Jets. Arizona couldn’t handle San Francisco in Arizona.
Denver isn’t the only divisional leader sporting the deep scar of a shameful loss; it’s just the only one that everyone loves to hate. It’s the only team that has ESPN sportscasters squirming in their stools with gleeful doubt.
However, if you want to go by records, which by the way is how the playoff berths are determined, the Broncos are the sixth-best team in the NFL. 6-3 just ain’t that bad.
Football is a game of inches, but it’s also a game of odds. It takes a fortuitous bounce of the ball or two to win it all, and when the ball bounces your way so many times through the first six games of the season, it’s bound to go the other way eventually.
Remember, it’s OK to be in charge of the AFC West with the second-place team, a team you’ve already bested, coming into your house needing to beat you head-to-head to take hold of the top spot. It’s OK to be one of only 10 teams in the entire league with at least six wins. No matter what certain local, half-celebrity television reporters say, it’s OK to have a starting quarterback who ranks 12th in passing efficiency with over 2,000 yards and an 11-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Excuse me if the metaphorical horse seems dead, but the fact remains that despite the buzz, the gridiron Broncos are alive and well. Denver isn’t going to quit playing football because it has already defied the odds in mid-November. It won’t throw in the towel because some halfwit stands on a tiny soapbox in front of a downtown news camera and whines that Orton can’t throw it farther than three yards. The man is in the top half of the league in yards per attempt – ahead of Kurt Warner, Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan.
And Jay Cutler. Bringing up former players and long-lost baggage isn’t the point of this wakeup call, but somehow, through all of the success, there are still fans begging for the return of the worst quarterback in the NFL. It’s simple. Kyle Orton’s care of the football and heady play has made Denver a better team. Cutler’s league-leading 17 interceptions have literally crippled the Bears.
One last time, Denver is 6-3, not 3-6. There are five other teams with the same mark through nine games, and none of them is panicked. We shouldn’t be either.
The defense has been a scythe of opposing quarterbacks, ranking second in the league with 29 sacks. It’s fourth in points allowed. It held Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker to 17 — half as many as Indianapolis allowed. This isn’t just a good football team, it’s a division-leading, Patriots-beating, odds-defying behemoth that will keep its head high and mind focused. It didn’t give up when so many had it pegged as the scourge of the AFC, and it won’t give up now.
So where’s the love? Where’s the diehard loyalty when it should be easy to come by. No one gave Denver a chance to take the first two months of the season by storm, and now, after three losses, the wagons have dispersed in a race to remind everyone that they, too, knew all along that Denver couldn’t do it.
Come on. This is the city that birthed LoDo out of a forlorn warehouse district. A group of people who climb mountains when they want to relax. A township of citizens who breathe air that makes visitors wheeze. There’s resilience here. Heart. Some good, old-fashioned grit. Let’s show some.
This losing streak isn’t an omen, it’s an opportunity.
Read more from Hunter Ansley at DraftZoo.com