Our View: Uneasy times for Broncos


Bye week for a Denver Broncos fan is an uneasy time.

Not because it's an empty Sunday afternoon during which most "good" husbands would head out to the yard and finish that incredibly long list of chores that needs to be completed before winter sets in for good.

The bye week is an uneasy time because halfway through the NFL season, most Broncos fans are still trying to figure out what kind of team Denver is.

Are the Broncos the bumbling fools who were blown out by Miami in the season opener?

Are they players that let 6-foot-5, 226-pound Plaxico Burress, a true New York Giant, wrestle them to the ground in a game that interrupted one of the team's longest winning streaks in recent memory?

Or are the Broncos the dominating team that showed up in the second half to shut down the mighty San Diego Chargers offense in Week 2?

It was that same team that had Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb wishing he was back at Syracuse instead of on his back at Invesco Field at Mile High last weekend.

There will be an unsettled feeling in my stomach this weekend as I watch other NFL teams play their games. I will wonder whether this year's Broncos are the real deal and whether they have what it takes to go all the way to the Super Bowl -- or at least past the first round of the playoffs.

With a record of 6-2, I'm doing my best to stay positive about the Broncos I've watched, cheered for and cursed at since I was tall enough to turn the dial on our family's TV.

I have been a Denver Broncos fan through it all, and I'm proud of that.

I watched the team squander four trips to the Super Bowl before being rewarded in 1998 with a 31-24 victory against Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII. The team won again the next year when they topped the Atlanta Falcons, 34-11, in Super Bowl XXXIII.

But things changed in 2000.

Elway left, along with the swagger that had characterized the Denver team for more than a decade.

I suddenly had to adjust from the feeling of knowing the Broncos could overcome almost any fourth-quarter deficit. Now I live with the reality that my team can blow almost any fourth-quarter lead.

The days when the Broncos would cruise through the AFC West en route to the playoffs also are gone. These days, I'm happy for a Wild Card playoff berth and the realization that the Broncos season at least will end in the first round of the playoffs.

So today, like many Broncos fans, I will go about those unfinished chores wondering what kind of football team will return to the playing field Nov. 13 against the Oakland Raiders.

Is it the one that will make a playoff run in the second half of the season or the one that will leave me with that queasy feeling that never seems to go away -- especially during a bye week.


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