Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sleeping With The Enemy: Broncos @ Colts

Welcome back to another episode of Sleeping With The Enemy, in which we lock horns with a fan of our opposition in advance of this week's game. Today's combatant is Steven Wayne Cobb, Colts booster and the last living veteran of the Spanish-American War.

Let me tell you a little bit about Steve. He grew up in Indiana, where he learned to play the guitar and follow in the proud musical/mental health tradition of Michael Jackson, John Cougar Mellencamp, Axl Rose and Kenny Chesney. This IS our country. He's followed the Colts his whole life, or at least since that snowy day the Mayflower trucks rolled in from Baltimore. Coincidentally, that was also the day Steve became eligible for Social Security--good times all around.

Anyway, Steve's flown the horseshoe-emblazoned flag in Fort Collins for many a year, enduring much ridicule as Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy stumbled in big game after big game. Then, last February, the Colts faced the Bears in the Super Bowl and...well, I don't really know what happened because I blacked out before kickoff. But Steve was pretty happy, so I assume Indy did well.

Old No. 7: So, yeah, I still can't believe how all that shit went down last year. Your team, coach and quarterback, all previously considered choking losers (at least by me), conquered their demons and won the Super Bowl. Even more amazing, Peyton is now considered cool and Dungy is a best-selling motivational author. How do you feel about these momentous events?

Steven Wayne Cobb: To answer this one honestly is tough. In an unbiased opinion, I've felt the Colts have been the best team in football for years. Luck finally came their way last year in the playoffs (dropped balls by Pats receivers) and now they're writing best-sellers.

7: Since Dungy and Manning have been in Indy, you guys have flat out owned the Broncos. You win most of these games, usually in blowouts. What will be different this time, considering Denver comes in with possibly their best secondary ever?

SWC: Throwing the ball on the Broncos will be hard for even the best quarterback ever this week. But my first question to you will be, how will you stop Addai and/or the play-action? Your run-defense is vulnerable. Can it improve?

7: The run defense, certainly, is one key to Denver staying in this game. Thus far it's been problematic, at least statistically. Buffalo had some decent gains but the Bronco defense handled the tempo of that game. Almost all of Oakland's yardage came in a stretch of the second half when the Orange Crush took a nap.

Now the Jacksonville game, that was another story. They totally dominated the line of scrimmage and time of possession. We couldn't tackle for shit. I'd like to think that was an aberration (or, at the very least, we can't possibly play that poorly again).

And so, this is what it will take to slow the Colts' running game and force the ball into the air (and, hopefully, into the waiting arms of Champ Bailey): Whatever the fuck Jim Bates' scheme is in terms of the DTs occupying the neutral zone, do that. Our smallish DEs have to hold the point of attack--John Engleberger does this well. It would be nice if DJ Williams was as adept at recognizing runs and tackling backs as he was at running into teammates and tripping over his own feet. This one's all on the linebackers...the minute our safeties start creeping up in short yardage situations Laser Rocket Arm will check to the fake handoff/seam route to Dallas Clark, and that's all she wrote.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my recurring fantasy. It involves Peyton actually getting pressured by the Broncos, spinning around and Simeon Rice breaking his jaw and collarbone. That would really help our defense's chances, I think. There's a better chance of me finding ten thousand dollars in the cushions of my sofa Sunday afternoon, but a guy can dream.

Who am I kidding? The Broncos fucking suck. I may not even watch the game. What's your take on the rest of the AFC South? It seems like it may be the best division in football.

SWC: The AFC South is getting better, but if it's the best division in football, the Colts don't even need skates (Editor's Note: That sentence did not make sense.). Experience is key of course and I can't tell you when another team, besides the Colts, won a playoff game from our division.

You may not watch the game? Give me a break. My second question for you is: Have you ever missed a Bronco game in your adult life?

7: I've missed a couple games. Sometimes you just can't avoid it. I can't pinpoint any specific contest, but I know it's happened. I'm going to New Zealand in December, a trip that coincides with a Denver/San Diego game. I think I've obtained the technology that will allow me to watch the game, on my laptop, in the middle of the night. I'm sure it will be the lowlight of my trip.

As for what you said about the other teams in the South, that's a good point. They are improving, but Houston's never been to the playoffs, Tennessee hasn't with this group, and Jacksonville tends to flop in December and January. Divisions like the NFC East or AFC North have multiple playoff-tested opponents.

SWC: How comfortable do you feel with the Broncos sitting 2-1 in the West? Is Denver the team to beat having a struggling Chargers squad, a revived Raider Nation, and a Chef squad that should go 1-15?

7: I don't feel confident at all. San Diego does look lousy, and it appears that the entire city may turn on Norv Turner at any moment. If they don't destroy the Chiefs Sunday, I think Norv will be carved up and fed to Shamu. Go fuck yourself, San Diego. Regardless of their issues, however, there's no way that team finishes south of .500 this year.

The Raiders are indeed feisty, but let's not kid ourselves. I don't need to remind you -- a fantasy owner who signed Daunte Culpepper to a long-term fake contract before last season -- about their quarterback situation. They're improved and will surprise more than a few teams this year, but the circus in Oakland is a long way from contending for a playoff spot.

I was more than a little bummed by Kansas City's stirring comeback victory last week. I had hopes of a perfect season, the first ever 0-16. That win was a testament to the home field advantage at Arrowhead -- a tip of my cap to you, overweight inebriated Midwesterners in the bleachers. They'll scrape together three more of those, but I don't see the Chafes taking a road game this season.

So the division stinks, and 10-6 might take the whole thing. Denver is certainly capable of reaching such a record, and in fact before the season that's what I predicted. But they'll need to improve in many areas to do so--specifically special teams, offensive line play and defensive playmaking. All this could be glossed over should Jay Cutler suddenly act like an elite QB, but I think that's expecting too much of a de facto rookie. It's about the fundamentals.

One thing that's amazing to me is that, even though you guys won the Super Bowl and Belichick has been exposed as a filthy crook, New England is unanimously considered the finest team in the NFL. Thoughts?

SWC: The Colts are still the best team in football until someone beats them. Period.

7: You've been in Colorado for a number of years. What's it like supporting a foreign team in Bronco Country?

SWC: It sucked when the Colts sucked, of course. But there is a level of respect now that the monkey has been shot dead, mangled, ran over by a pick-up truck, and then shot dead again. I doubt I'll ever be able to enjoy another matchup between these two teams at Mile High again. Your fans are just mean. And mean people suck. Especially mean fans that lose to Peyton.

7: Jesus. Everyone says this about games in Denver -- "You guys are mean." What, exactly, do you expect from attending a game in enemy territory? I've been to road games and been harassed, and I have no problem with it. If it bothered me I either wouldn't go or I wouldn't wear my colors.

The only stadiums that annoyed me were in New Orleans and San Diego (which means a whale's vagina), because the fans there rolled over like a cheap hooker when the going got rough and the Broncos started winning. The Chargers have the softest fans I've ever seen. We fucking owned that place.

If I went to this game at the RCA Dome wearing my gear, I would assume that the pasty, obese farmers that attend Colts games would give me the business. They'd do so politely, of course, because it is in the Midwest, but home football games are no joke. The crowd plays to win the game, right?

OK, you're maintaining that the Colts are the team to beat, and that's fine. But you have to look at the Patriots and other top teams in the AFC and wonder how you'll stack up. You guys squeaked by New England last year and they've added a ton of dynamic talent to their club.

If you could, tell me what you think of New England. And also clubs like Pittsburgh, San Diego, Baltimore, etc. in the AFC (as well as whatever team you think will come out of the NFC) from the standpoint of how they match up with the Colts.

And, is there any way you guys could go ahead and start looking ahead to that huge Nov. 4 game against the Pats? That'd be great.

SWC: New England is dangerous. Of course. It's obvious. Tom Brady actually acquiring decent receivers, much less elite Hall of Famers, is scary as shit. But when they do loose a game, who are they going to blame it on? Wes Welker? Not being able to cheat? Their vulnerability will be revealed soon enough.

There are no NFC teams that even match-up with the tenth best AFC team. The Packers maybe? It just doesn't seem right to involve that team in this discussion.

The other two teams that have impressed me are with new coaches, Dallas and Pittsburgh. I absolutely despise these two squads, but they do look great. Patience, great defense, and they're scoring a shit-load of points. They will make a difference in the post-season.

7: What is Peyton Manning's Kryptonite? Is it young boys, like Alex Rodriguez? Doughnuts? Thinly sliced pastrami?

SWC: The way to get to Manning is, well, getting to Manning. If he gets hit a few times on one possession, is behind in the game, and doesn't have time to be the "chosen one" and use his Jedi powers, he will be frazzled and start to make mistakes. What you don't want to do though is piss him off. He will then score 80 points and never look back. How much do you miss having Jake Plummer around? That guy was a barrel of laughs.

7: Plummer was always a "B" quarterback. Good enough to start, but he sucked enough to give any fan a headache. What do you think about the job being done by Roger Goodell? Is he good for the NFL?

SWC: Goodell you ask? Well you better not get caught jay-walking. I do agree coming down on these thugs, but if the NFL has any more bad media it will start hurting their ratings. Sure, geeks like us will watch and root on our teams forever, but increased contracts and endorsements will be harder to come by if an image is tainted.

7: And I'll need a prediction for the game.

SWC: Prediction: Colts 24, Donks 13. It's a horse race in Indy today. GO COLTS!!!!!!!!!!!

7: Excellent. We were definitely missing some of that trademark superfluous punctuation before now. I feel that I've succeeded in my task, which is acting all deferential and shit and duping you into feeling superior. I will now reveal my true feelings, which include the belief that the Broncos will SHOCK THE WORLD in Indianapolis today. We're going to physically dominate the soft Colts, knock Manning around and totally not lose by as many points as you think. Broncos 24, Colts 28, Denver covers the spread for the first time all year. Count it.


Cecil said...

I'd say Worst Game Ever, but that insults the notion of "worst."

Did the defense get caught en masse in some group scooter accident that caused them to forget how to tackle? I haven't seen 'em that bad, a week.

I said 8-8 last week. This week I say 6-10.