And now we look at the 2008 Denver Broncos, the latest chapter in the story. Jay Cutler and friends can still do a lot of good things when they have the ball (Monday's result to the side), but the Broncos are a Make-A-Wish Foundation for any offense that comes their way. Bring your entire playbook when you face these guys, because everything works against Bob Slowik's group right now.
The best thing you can say about the pass defense is that it doesn't allow a ridiculous amount of deep connections; six teams have allowed more yards per attempts than the Broncos (7.8). But those shorter hook-ups come without much of a fight (72.9 completion percentage), and six of the seven Denver opponents have posted a QB rating over 100. Basically anyone you roll out against the Broncos turns into Peyton Manning (2004 version), and that's why Denver has allowed the most passing yards in the league.
Amazingly enough, the run defense look even more broken, where the slow-footed front seven hands out 5.4 yards per carry (the worst number this side of Kansas City). Darren Sproles, Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Johnson, and Sammy Morris each had their best game of the year against the Broncos, and Reggie Bush had his best day from scrimmage. The linebackers look bad enough against the run, but things really fall apart when you ask those guys to drop into coverage; we've seen a ton of breakdowns in that area.
The Week 8 bye comes at an ideal time for Denver, with Cutler and Champ Bailey nicked up (Randy Moss partied like Joel Goodson Monday night as soon as Bailey left the game). I'm still confident Denver's offense can be one of the better ones in the league, and with Cutler off this week, it's probably the cheapest time to acquire him. Wait a day or two to make sure his digits are all in good working order, and then see what the price looks like. He's going to need to chuck it 35-40 times a week for the Broncos to stay competitive. Brandon Marshall should be a Top 5 receiver, easily, the rest of the way, and Eddie Royal looks frisky enough to start every week, so long as he's healthy.
As for the Patriots, they certainly looked like world-beaters in this one, but we have to consider the opponent. This is the ideal time to rekindle those Moss trade talks; your rival saw the game, and maybe he's overrating where Matt Cassel is right now. This is still a week-to-week offense, and a unit that's going to struggle when the other team puts up a fight. Moss and Wes Welker have a decent chance to make hay against the Rams in Week 8, but then the teeth of the schedule kicks in (Colts, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Steelers).
Quick hits: Andre Hall's two fumbles clear the path for Ryan Torain's arrival in the second half of the year. Keep in mind the Broncos were very much in the game for the first 15 minutes; the early turnovers were crippling . . . I've taken shots at Cassel's pocket awareness all year, but most of the six sacks he took Monday could be blamed on poor pass blocking (the New England backs were whiffing all night) . . . BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a virtual unknown into this game and he looked pretty snappy in the second half (13-65, touchdown), but it's hard to say what it means given the context. The Broncos didn't even look like they were trying on his touchdown run . . . Morris walked out of the locker room Monday night without a limp, according to the Providence Journal. The Pats are a hard team to get injury information from, but that's certainly an encouraging sign . . . Rodney Harrison tore a quad muscle in the second half, ending his season and possibly his career. I'll give a hearty tip of the cap to Harrison, one of the better safeties of his generation, but in my eyes he's clearly not a Hall of Famer.