ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peter King of *Sports Illustrated's The MMQB was in Colorado on Tuesday as the Broncos near their season opener against the Panthers.*
King has seen the Broncos twice this preseason. He was at the Broncos' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears and he visited the UCHealth Training Center a few weeks ago to take in a joint practice between the Broncos and 49ers.
Between interviews on Tuesday, King took a few minutes to share his thoughts on the Broncos. Here, then, are three things we think King thinks about the Broncos:
1. Denver's defense will respond to criticism
"Well obviously it's rare for a Super Bowl champion to be either an underdog at home in the first game or something close to that. I think when you go from winning a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning as your quarterback to opening the next season with Trevor Siemian as your quarterback against the same quarterback, you sort of understand why that is.
"I'm bullish on Denver's chances. Look, I think this game Thursday is going to be a really good game, just because the mind is a powerful thing. And I'm sure the Broncos are taking a lot of notice of people everywhere saying that they're not going to win this game. Football players are like that – when people count them out, they're very quick to pick up on that.
"I think the one thing about this team now, and the way they're going to have to play this game, they're going to have to play it so much like they played the Super Bowl. Without pressure on Cam Newton and without the consistent disruption of the Carolina passing game, I don't think they have a good chance to win. But clearly they're in a position now where, because most of their real impact guys on defense are back, I think they ought to be able to disrupt the pocket. I think it's going to be a really good game.
"I'd be really, really surprised if either team ran away with this."
2. Expect the unexpected from Denver's gameplan
"Well I thought it was really interesting in the first preseason game in Chicago that when Siemian came in the game, [Head Coach] Gary Kubiak, his first four play calls were downfield throws for Siemian. That said to me: a) I want to find out what we have in this kid right now. b) He was close on all four throws. He either completed them or they were right on target, so that said to me that this team has faith in this guy and he can do it if the circumstances are right. Usually what happens is that teams will do the opposite of what the opposition is expecting, and so the opposition is expecting a heavy dose of the running game and a lot of short throws and I think they're going to do the opposite, quite frankly."
- Owner Pat Bowlen will end up in the Hall of Fame**
"Here's the deal: So we go into that meeting, there's five people on the Contributor's Committee for the Hall of Fame, we go into that meeting and there's five of us and we're considering 10 names. We've got to come out of there with two. In my opinion there were four pretty strong candidates: Pat Bowlen, Jerry Jones, Paul Tagliabue and Bobby Beathard. I thought going in that those were probably the four best candidates.
"So you go in, you discuss, you talk, you argue for five hours or whatever it was. So at the end of the day, the way I look at this is, if you 25 years from now look back at this era of NFL history, who are going to be the most impactful NFL contributors in that era of NFL history? I voted for Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue as my top two. Pat Bowlen was third on my list. I say the same thing as I say almost every year when we come out of that meeting: There are more than five players who we consider every year of the 15 modern-era finalists, there are more than five who could be in the Hall of Fame and should be in the Hall of Fame. However, we can only put five in each year.
"And my feeling is Pat Bowlen will get in someday. I don't know when. I fully empathize with people in Denver who want him in and people in Colorado who want him in now, especially because he's in failing health, and I get it. If he had been one of the two chosen, I would've thought it was a great decision. But all we can do is vote on what our conscience tells us, and I just think Jerry Jones has been the greatest businessman in the NFL maybe ever, but certainly one of them. And I think Paul Tagliabue had a really influential role in the league for 17 years. So that's why I voted how I did."