Every year I post my prediction on this blog before the first game for the Denver Broncos season. Here are my thoughts for 2014:
The Broncos will again have a successful season, winning the AFC West with a record of 11-5. They will not make it to the Super Bowl, however, losing on the road in the playoffs at New England. Reasons?:
1. The Broncos have a difficult schedule this year, being matched with the NFC West for their out of conference games. Playing the defending Super Bowl champ Seahawks on the road in addition to the 49'ers and Cardinals are tougher matchups than the NFC East teams the Broncos played last season.
2. The Broncos again draw New England on the road in the regular season, where they have lost the past two seasons. New England figures to be stronger this year with Rob Gronkowski back at tight end and a full off season to address their depleted defense (adding Darrelle Revis at cornerback). While Denver overcame the Patriot loss to still claim the AFC West #1 seed in each of the past two seasons, I don't see that happening in 2014. The home field advantage will be key in the playoffs, allowing the Patriots to beat the Broncos on their home turf in the AFC Championship game.
3. The Broncos ARE improved in 2014, provided they stay healthy. The defensive additions of Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward will give the team a better defense. However Ware and Talib have been injury prone the last two seasons and I wonder if they can stay on the field for the full 16 game schedule.
4. Peyton Manning will again have a stellar season. The Broncos will miss Knowshon Moreno, though, with Montee Ball not matching Knowshon's 2013 production.
5. Seattle looks awesome. They remind me of the young 1993 Dallas Cowboy team that won their first Super Bowl the previous season, and were even better the next year in winning the championship again. Having Percy Harvin for a full season, the continued maturation of quarterback Russell Wilson, and the best defense in the NFL will lead the Seahawks to a second straight Super Bowl title.
Playing Seattle on the road in game 4 will be the litmus test for this 2014 Broncos team. Will the improvements on defense, a beefed up offensive line (with Ryan Clady back), and a full offseason for offensive mastermind Adam Gase to figure out how to attack the Seahawks D lead to a different result than Super XLVIII? The Broncos don't have to win this game, but if they can play the Seattle close and neutralize Seahawk's pass rush, that'll be a good sign that Denver can exceed my predictions above. That's what I'm hoping for.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
This Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a practice round for the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver - the first PGA tour event in the Denver area since the International at nearby Castle Pines closed shop in 2006. Cherry Hills is a storied course that has hosted three US Opens, including the 1960 US Open - considered by golf historians one of the greatest tournaments ever. That championship featured Arnold Palmer coming back from seven strokes behind on the final day to win, edging out golf legend Ben Hogan and a young Jack Nicklaus.
Arnold Palmer's 1960 victory is still remembered fondly around the course, including this plaque at tee box #1. Palmer was to drive the green and make a birdie on this 345 yard par 4 hole. Could today's golfers perform the same feat?
We were fortunate to find a viewing balcony immediately behind the first tee. The format this day was a "pro-am", with a PGA tour pro playing 18 holes with three amateur partners. The amateurs paid $12,000 each for this privilege! Here PGA Pro Henrik Stenson meets his playing companions.
The best drive we saw this day was from Sergio Garcia, who hit a powerful shot to the green, 345 yards away. "Best shot of the day," said a Cherry Hills official monitoring the first tee.
Sergio's Spanish heritage was evident from his choice of golf club covers on his bag!
The highlight of the day was the opportunity to follow the number one golfer in the World around the course for a few holes - Ireland's Rory Mcilroy!
We could get very close to Rory during his round. Though small in stature compared to some of the other players we saw, no one can hit a golf ball farther than Rory.
It was fun to see Rory's long tee shots from behind.
I also enjoyed seeing some of the legendary holes at Cherry Hills. Here is the island green on hole 17. Ben Hogan hit into the water on this hole ending his hopes of winning the 1960 Open.
I hope the BMW Tournament will lead to the PGA Tour returning to the Denver area for future tournaments. I have a feeling Cherry Hills will host another US Open or PGA Championship some day, now that the course has been modified for today's big hitters.