Paul Klee: Predicting (in erasable ink) the 2017 Denver Broncos season
DENVER — Will the tarp move to Las Vegas, too?
Sorry, I don’t feel sorry for Oakland. Neither do the Broncos.
“I don’t like the Raiders,” Bay Area native T.J. Ward said Wednesday.
My support for the Raiders’ eventual trudge to Las Vegas — in 2019, it looks like — has nothing to do with the football team. Truth is, the Raiders being good is good for business. (Hate to break it to Broncos Country, but the Raiders are going to be good for a while.) It's about their city.
Good riddance. Hey, the dead rat we found in the press box two years ago was no biggie; sports media have smellier issues than dead rats. Even the tarp that covers the upper deck, hung there to prevent TVs blackouts since the Raiders can’t fill the place, has a welcome-back feel to it.
It’s when you’re not in the Coliseum that’s a problem. It’s a problem when female colleagues don’t feel comfortable walking to the BART after work. It’s telling when the Oakland hotel is surprised you still stay there, since “people here for Raiders games usually stay across bridge.” It all reminds of my burning question from Super Bowl 50: How is California so expensive yet so broke at the same time?
I feel for fans who lose their team. That’s a bummer. But I won’t miss Oakland one bit. Neither will NFL players — Denver’s or otherwise.
“It is what it is,” Ward said. “I’m from San Francisco, so I’m happy.”
Also happy: NFL fanatics, who learned their 2017 schedule on Thursday:
Week 1: Los Angeles Chargers at Broncos
Date: Sept. 11 (8:20 p.m. Mountain, ESPN)
After a preseason-long QB competition with Paxton Lynch and second-round pick Josh Dobbs out of Tennessee, Trevor Siemian slings the game-winner with 13 seconds left. Trending in Colorado: #TrevorForever.
Prediction: Broncos 14, Chargers 12 (Record: 1-0)
Week 2: Dallas Cowboys at Broncos
Date: Sept. 17 (2:25 p.m., FOX)
The no-brainer of this NFL season: Tony Romo joins Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson at Mile High for a homecoming that never was. (It won't be this one; Romo's on CBS.) Who knows? Perhaps the Nuggets can score him a jersey.
Prediction: Cowboys 20, Broncos 14 (Record: 1-1)
Week 3: Broncos at Buffalo Bills
Date: Sept. 24 (11 a.m., CBS)
According to Thursday’s Buffalo News, Bills lineman Cyrus Kouandjio "was found, not fully clothed, in a field after climbing an electric fence." Thank goodness he wasn’t in Colorado on 4/20.
Prediction: Bills 18, Broncos 15 (Record: 1-2)
Week 4: Oakland Raiders at Broncos
Date: Oct. 1 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
After a month of sports-talk hair-pulling over the disturbing lack of offense, the Broncos wish they had, in fact, traded up for Christian McCaffrey. Trending in Colorado: #NeverTrevor.
Prediction: Raiders 23, Broncos 21 (Record: 1-3)
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: New York Giants at Broncos
Date: Oct. 15 (6:30 p.m., NBC)
To recap: Brandon Marshall, the linebacker, plays for the Broncos. Brandon Marshall, the wide receiver, is a Giant. The latter’s played here only once since he was traded away in 2010.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Giants 20 (Record: 2-3)
Week 7: Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers
Date: Oct. 22 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
The Chargers’ temporary home, the StubHub Center, seats 30,000 for football games. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park? Around 18,000 for futbol. Expect an intimate, and orange, Sunday setting.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 16 (Record: 2-4)
Week 8: Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Date: Oct. 30 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
The Vegas oddsmakers see another tight race in the West: the Raiders (10:1 to win the AFC), Broncos (11:1) and Chiefs (11:1) are among the AFC favorites, trailing the Patriots, Steelers and Texans.
Prediction: Chiefs 20, Broncos 17 (Record: 2-5)
Week 9: Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles
Date: Nov. 5 (11 a.m., CBS)
It’s been eight years since Denver played in Philly, a 30-27 loss. Kyle Orton and Donovan McNabb combined for six touchdown passes. Fantasy ace David Akers booted the winner with 4 seconds left.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Eagles 17 (Record: 3-5)
Week 10: New England Patriots at Broncos
Date: Nov. 12 (6:30 p.m., NBC)
Playing in the pushover AFC East, New England going 16-0 is possible. When the Pats reach 11-0… then 12-0… then 13-0... will they pull back on the reins — to avoid a repeat of 2007?
Prediction: Patriots 17, Broncos 16 (Record: 3-6)
Week 11: Cincinnati Bengals at Broncos
Date: Nov. 19 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
Speaking on Aqib Talib, Broncos safety Darian Stewart put this one on a tee: “He’s a straight shooter.” With no suspension for Talib, the “No Fly Zone” sure dodged a… nah, too easy.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Bengals 12 (Record: 4-6)
Week 12: Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Date: Nov. 26 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
The real entrepreneurs are the Broncos diehards who score season tickets — for the Las Vegas Raiders. Toss in a Terrible Towel, and two seats for the Steelers’ visit will fetch a pretty penny.
Prediction: Raiders 24, Broncos 23 (Record: 4-7)
Week 13: Broncos at Miami Dolphins
Date: Dec. 3 (11 a.m., CBS)
Vance, Adam. Adam, Vance. Here’s a hypothetical: If the Broncos had hired Gase to succeed John Fox, would Joseph be here anyway — as defensive coordinator, in place of Wade Phillips?
Prediction: Broncos 20, Dolphins 16 (Record: 5-7)
Week 14: New York Jets at Broncos
Date: Dec. 10 (2:05 p.m., CBS)
Think the Broncos’ quarterback conundrum is troublesome? Imagine sports-talk radio around the Jets, who could introduce their 10th starter in the past 10 years.
Prediction: Broncos 30, Jets 7 (Record: 6-7)
Week 15: Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Date: Dec. 14 (6:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network)
Things that are smarter than predicting Denver’s record five months before the season: rattlesnake wrestling, arguing on social media, trusting she looks like her Tinder photos.
Prediction: Colts 26, Broncos 13 (Record: 6-8)
Week 16: Broncos at Washington Redskins
Date: Dec. 24 (11 a.m., CBS)
Christmas in D.C.? Vance Joseph didn’t take the easy route: Not only is he entering his first season as a head coach without an established QB, the Broncos also have the league’s toughest schedule in ‘17.
Prediction: Broncos 26, Redskins 23 (Record: 7-8)
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs at Broncos
Date: Dec. 31 (2:25 p.m., CBS)
Just a hunch, but at this point in the season the Chiefs will have swapped out QBs, moving on from Alex Smith to the college fella they select in the first round of the draft next Thursday.
Prediction: Broncos 33, Chiefs 10 (Record: 8-8)