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Denver Broncos fans: Super Bowls are not won in September

Peyton Manning BroncosThe Denver Broncos are 4-0 and have scored more points than any team in the NFL by far. They look great. Peyton Manning has set a record for most touchdown passes thrown in the first four games of a season with 16. There is talk about this team being better and more impressive than the 2007 New England Patriots, who went 18-0 before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. But for all the praise about Manning and the Broncos, allow me to remind you that Super Bowls are not won in September.

Peyton Manning has a history of doing this sort of thing. How many times did he start off the season undefeated and hot only to make an early exit in the playoffs? Let’s see.

    - 1999 Colts won 11 straight games from Week 6-16, lost in divisional round to Ten
    – 2004 Colts won 8 straight games from Week 9-16, lost in divisional round to Pats
    – 2005 Colts started 13-0, lost in divisional round to Steelers
    – 2007 Colts started 7-0, lost in divisional round to Chargers
    – 2008 Colts won 9 in a row from Week 9-17, lost in wild card round to Chargers
    – 2009 Colts started 14-0, lost Super Bowl to Saints
    – 2012 Broncos won 11 in a row from Week 6-17, lost in divisional round to Ravens

The one exception was Manning’s 2006 Colts, who started 9-0 and won the Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears.

You could argue that this is Manning’s best team and offense yet, but don’t forget about some of his other amazing squads. Are you really going to tell me that this team of Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker is better than Manning’s 2004 Colts, who had Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark? I’m not willing to say that. Manning threw for a then-record 49 touchdown passes that season. In Week 10-13, they went through a similar stretch to this Broncos team. They won 49-14, 41-10, 41-9 and 51-24 in those games. And then they lost to the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs.

This Broncos team may go 16-0 for all I know. Manning may break Tom Brady’s record for touchdown passes in a season. But from what I’ve learned watching football over the years, all it takes is one strong defensive performance, or a game where Peyton throws a few picks, for his team to lose in the playoffs and make the records seem insignificant. So let the media fawn all over Peyton and talk about how he’s the greatest and how the Broncos are the best ever, but just remember that the ultimate prize is winning the Super Bowl, not going 4-0 and setting records in September. When the Broncos win the Super Bowl, I’ll join the chorus in praise. Until then, I’ll wait this one out.

Broncos running backs played rock, paper, scissors for last touchdown

Ronnie HillmanThe Denver Broncos have created a fantasy football nightmare with their crowded backfield. Knowshon Moreno emerged as the clear-cut starter with his breakout performance against the New York Giants last weekend, but Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball have still received their fair share of carries. On Tuesday night, the trio may have decided fantasy matchups with a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Hillman ripped off a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter to get the ball down to the 1-yard line. In order to decide which running back would get the chance to punch the ball in, Hillman says he played rock, paper, scissors against Ball and Moreno.

“I mean, you definitely don’t want to see anybody else go in at that point,” Hillman told Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com. “We were just messing around on the sideline. Just something to do. Have fun. Luckily I won, so it all worked out.”

So there you have it. Ball has lost a fumble in two straight games and Hillman put the ball on the ground three times in preseason. You would think Moreno has earned the goal line work by default, but fantasy owners who have Hillman or Ball really just need their running backs to get better at rock, paper, scissors. That would help your team rack up more wins.

H/T Rotoworld

Radio host Vic Lombardi vandalizes Joe Flacco poster in Denver

Vic-Lombardi-vandalismEarlier this week, the NFL put up posters and billboards around Sports Authority Field and downtown Denver to promote the regular season opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. As you might expect, Broncos fans are not pleased about it.

The Ravens are the team that put an end to the Broncos’ Super Bowl hopes last year with an incredible comeback victory in the playoffs. Eventual Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard bomb to tie the game with 31 seconds remaining in regulation, and Baltimore went on to win in overtime. So local Denver sportscaster Vic Lombardi decided to represent the fans by vandalizing one of the Flacco signs.

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Ravens billboards put up around Denver to promote NFL season opener

Joe-Flacco-Top-Five-QuarterbackThe Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens are set to kick off the 2013 NFL season next Thursday in a game that will be nationally televised on NBC. As a way of promoting both teams and hyping up the first official game of the year, the NFL has put up signs and billboards around Sports Authority Field and downtown Denver that feature Ravens players in addition to Broncos players.

Makes sense, right? The only issue is that Broncos fans still have a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens in the 2012 playoffs fresh on their minds. Baltimore stunned Denver with an amazing comeback that included a 70-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining in regulation. Now, Broncos fans have to look at Flacco’s face while they’re walking around town:

Since the promotions are a mandate from the league, there is nothing the Broncos can do about it. However, Mike Klis of The Denver Post pointed out that the team did try to explain itself via its official Twitter account:

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Wes Welker: I can ‘be myself’ more with Denver Broncos than Patriots

Wes-WelkerWes Welker has a fun-loving personality that was often masked by the strict rules of the New England Patriots organization. The 32-year-old receiver likes to mess around, and the Patriots don’t stand for funny business. Any player who is even allowed to talk to the media at Gillette Stadium has had to earn Bill Belichick’s trust and respect first.

In Denver, Welker is already sensing a more laid back feel.

“I feel like I can be myself a little more for sure,” he told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports over the weekend, before being asked if the Broncos gave him any ruled for speaking to the media “Here? No. … All they told me was, ‘Just be yourself.’ ”

If you remember, Welker learned the hard way back in 2011 that joking around with a microphone in front of you is rarely tolerated in New England. Tedy Bruschi knows from experience that the Patriots have a strict policy when it comes to speaking to the media, which is basically what Welker is referring to.

While Patriots fans may interpret Welker’s comments as a jab at his former team, people who are familiar with the Patriot way know that he is simply stating the obvious. Belichick has a stronger gag order on his players than any coach in the league. Getting away from that is naturally going to provide a small sense of relief when speaking to reporters.

Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk

Wes Welker: Broncos ‘in trouble’ if I have to catch 112 passes

Willie-McGinest-Wes-Welker-divaDuring his time with the New England Patriots, Wes Welker was arguably the most reliable receiver in the league. The 112 passes he caught per year proved he was Tom Brady’s favorite target, but that does not mean he will serve the same role for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Welker played alongside Randy Moss for three seasons, but he has never played with as talented a receiving corps as the one the Broncos will have in 2013. Eric Decker caught 85 passes for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Demaryius Thomas hauled in 94 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns. To think that Welker will come in and match the production he had in New England would be unrealistic, and Welker is hoping that won’t be the case.

“If I have to catch 112 balls, that probably means we’re in trouble,” Welker said Monday after his first official practice with the Broncos, via the Denver Post. “(The catches) are not the goal. The goal is to go out there and help your team win games. However many catches that is, however many blocks that takes, however many routes I’ve got to run, whatever. I think we all feel the same way about that.”

Welker may not even catch 90 balls this season. Given the type of player he is, that just goes to show you how loaded Denver should be. Manning will have more weapons than any quarterback in the league. Barring any significant injuries, the Broncos may not have a receiver with over 85 catches next season. However, having three with 80 receptions is not out of the question.

Helmet smack to Around the League

Patriots reportedly signed Danny Amendola day before Broncos signed Wes Welker

Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, and there has been a ton of speculation about whether it was more his decision to leave or the decision of the New England Patriots to push him away. If Welker did indeed return to the Patriots after he was offered a two-year, $12 million contract from the Broncos to give New England a chance to match, why didn’t they want him at such a reasonable price?

Perhaps the reason is that the Patriots had already signed Danny Amendola. According to CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran, New England actually inked a deal with the former St. Louis Rams wideout on Tuesday. Apparently the Patriots had already made up their minds when Welker’s camp informed them that the 32-year-old would be testing the free agent market and seeking an annual salary of somewhere in the $8 million to $9 million-per-season range.

Curran said that the Patriots’ line of thinking was that they could not afford to miss out on both Welker and Amnendola. Since their offer to Wes was reportedly two years, $10 million, they clearly realized they were nowhere near the $8 million his agents said he would seek on the open market. In other words, New England did not react to the Broncos signing Welker by quickly locking down Amendola — he was already a Patriot.

It’s obvious that the Patriots did not value Welker all that highly. However, you have to wonder if they would have matched the two-year, $12 million offer had they not already gone ahead and signed Amendola. Perhaps they thought there were teams out there who would have offered significantly more than that, thus causing them to shift their focus when they realized there would be no hometown discount offered. The dynamics of the NFL are even more crazy and unpredictable than we thought.