The Denver Broncos are on some kind of a roll. And, lead by none other than Peyton Manning, who might be having a career season, they have every reason to feel confident and secure, to puff their chests out a little.
Things are going well for them and it's no accident. Lots of smart people did lots of smart things to bring it all together. The plan is working, and the only thing that can stand in the Denver Broncos' way now is ... the Denver Broncos.
Are the Broncos too good for their own good?
It was great to watch the sack dances on Sunday, and to laugh on Twitter (Mile High Sports @stevequinne had the best Tweet. He made a Men Without Hats reference followed by #YouCanDanceIfYouWantTo).
The Broncos were rolling, particularly on defense, and as they celebrated their big plays on the field, we were all rolling, too ... in the isles. A lot of what the Broncos did was funny, and it was choreographed - as though the Broncos knew what was going to happen.
Watching a good team is fun. The Broncos are good. And they are having fun, which makes watching them a total blast. Bust there is something worrisome about their cockiness. There's always the chance that they will start making assumptions and be proven wrong. There were no fewer than a dozen individual player celebrations by Broncos players in Carolina and all of them bugged me just a little bit. Shouldn't this Broncos team have more humility?
It's one thing to thrust a fist onto the air or to signal first down, point to the sky or spike a ball. Athletes should celebrate their accomplishments, blow of steam with they find success. But they shouldn't study new ways to gloat, to mock their opponents. That leads to not taking games seriously and it's dangerous.
What we are dealing with here, Broncos fans, is a team that has a very real shot at a first round playoff bye. That's serious stuff. That makes the Super Bowl odds go way, way up. They would be two wins away and have home field advantage. That's what dreams are made of, people. But it's all too easy to blow it.
Tonight, on Monday Night Football, the Steelers hosted Kansas City. Pittsburgh didn't come out ready to play the 1-7 Chiefs. The Chiefs took them all the way to overtime and, if not for some questionable officiating and a poorly timed Matt Cassell interception, would have beaten the Steelers in their own house. And you know what else? The Chiefs had a huge celebration penalty that cost them 15 yards at a key juncture, giving the Steelers an impossible first down. There were plenty off lessons to be learned from that terrible game.
In the NFL every game counts, every opponent must be taken seriously, and selfish penalties kill.
The Broncos could let their dream start to slip away as soon as Sunday. The Chargers will come in here ready to fight like hell for their coach and for their division. They've been terrible, but there's easily enough talent on that team that it could light up the Broncos. Hell, Antonio Gates alone could be good for 200 yards the way the Broncos cave to tight ends. You never know what'll happen in an NFL game.
A good team stays humble. Look at the Patriots, the Giants, Peyton Manning's great Colt teams, the Superbowl Broncos. Those teams all celebrated, but they stayed grounded and keyed in on taking advantage of their opportunities. This season presents a huge and somewhat unexpected opportunity for the Broncos to rank amongst the top teams in the NFL. I just hope they don't laugh it away.
A lot of smart people did a lot of smart things to bring this all together. These Broncos are more finely tuned than even the most optimistic fan imagined - especially on defense. But they got that way because they had something to prove besides who's got the best safety dance.