A certain television network claiming to be the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" presented a poll question on their website last week. Who will be better during the 2012 NFL season: The Denver Broncos or the New York Jets? The Broncos destroyed the Jets in the polls. It just so happens that the Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten a good up close and personal look at these two teams in the past two years. The Steelers played the Broncos in the playoffs last season and the Jets the year before. Based on what I've seen from these two teams as a fan of the Steelers, there are a lot of NFL fans that need to take a closer look at these teams.
It's obvious why a lot of voters chose the Broncos over the Jets. The Broncos now have Peyton Manning who is now undountedly one of the five best players in NFL history. Meanwhile the Jets are constantly the butt of NFL fans' jokes and they now have Tim Tebow, who everybody is sick and tired of hearing about it. There is no doubt in my mind that the results of this poll are eighty percent biased due to the love of Manning, the hate of Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez and the annoyance of the Tebow coverage. If you really break it down there is no reason to the think the Broncos will be better than the Jets next season.
Over the last three seasons the Jets have averaged nine wins per season and their team won't be much different in the 2012 NFL season. The biggest difference will in fact be Tebow. There is a large percentage of viewers that will read this article and will immediately think something like, "Tebow sucks! He can't throw." Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before. Tebow's job won't be to throw though.
The Jets already have a wildcat system in place, which they used last year with Brad Smith as the quarterback. The wildcat would have worked if the Jets had the right quarterback in place but they didn't. Now they do. Tebow can make the plays that Smith could not make. Tebow will also improve the running game. The biggest reason for the Jets 8-8 season is they went from the 1 st rushing offense in the 2009 NFL season, to 4 th in 2010 and just 22 nd last season. Everyone is making fun of the Jets but Tebow is actually exactly what they need.
Of course, there is some truth behind the words of Jets haters. Tebow in New York could be a complete debacle from a media standpoint. The fans of New York already don't like Sanchez. When Sanchez makes his first big mistake of the season the fans are going to request Tebow be the starter or they mutiny. Then the Jets have to make a decision. Start Sanchez and piss off the fans or start Tebow, watch the season go down the drain and pay Sanchez a lot of money to ride the bench.
Here's why I think it could work though. The Jets brass is not going to give into the demands of the New York fans. Rex Ryan isn't going to care about what the fans say. Sanchez--despite not being the best quarterback--hasn't really buckled under the pressure of playing in New York and Tebow might not look like a professional quarterback but he's a pro at dealing with the media. To me the absolute worst case scenario is the Jets drop further to 7-9 next season, but more likely the Jets improve to 9-7 or even 10-6.
Then there are the Denver Broncos. Before we gauge the Broncos 2012 team let's get real about their 2011 season. Everyone claimed the defense was great but they ended up middle of the pack. Von Miller did get injured and struggled the rest of the year but if it's a great defense it wouldn't go down with one man. Everyone claims the Broncos have a good running game. Well, part of that was Tebow. First, who is going to replace the 660 yards that Tebow rushed for? Second, the threat of Tebow made it easier for the other runners to find open holes. You know who is the smallest threat to rush the ball in the entire NFL? Peyton Manning.
Then there is the AFC West. The San Diego Chargers underachieved and the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders both suffered major injuries. The AFC West obviously isn't the best conference in the NFL but all three teams could improve next season.
Also, who is Manning throwing the football to? Demaryius Thomas was a nice surprise but Eric Decker is not a real NFL caliber receiver. His best asset is probably that he's a good blocker. Blocking is a talent that is useful in an offense with a running quarterback like Tebow, but Decker is pretty useless in a Manning-led offense.
The craziest aspect of this whole notion that the Broncos are going to be better than the Jets is that this is the tenth paragraph of this article and we haven't even gotten to the fact that Manning is a huge question mark. The man had several very serious surgeries. Three months ago everyone wondered if Manning would ever play again and suddenly he's going to lead a team with no talent to the playoffs?
So let's do the math. The Broncos have a quarterback that was great once upon a time, an overrated defense, a pretty good but injury prone running back, a terrible crop of wide receivers and a division in which every single team could be better next season. The Jets have an average quarterback but have a running game that could easily be first in the NFL next season and a defense that ranked 5 th in fewest yards allowed last season. Sorry Denver fans but it is unlikely the Broncos' best case scenario is even as good as the Jets' worst case scenario of 7-9. The Broncos will probably be more like 5-11 during the 2012 NFL season. All the Jets' detractors can continue making fun of them but they are currently a better team than the Denver Broncos.
All stats were found at NFL.com
The last several generations of Lee Andrew Henderson's family were Pittsburgh born and even though he was born in Alabama he has been a long time fan of the Pirates, Steelers and Panthers. Lee Andrew Henderson can be found on Twitter at @LeeAHenderson