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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Midseason Stock Watch: Broncos

By Bill Williamson

Power Rankings: Preseason: No. 22. This week: No. 29.

2010 schedule/results

Josh McDaniels
The low point of the first half for Josh McDaniels and the Broncos was a 45-point home loss to Oakland.
Where they stand: Things are not good in Denver. The three other teams in the division all have hope for the rest of the season. The Broncos look like they are headed for a last-place finish. They haven’t finished last in the AFC West since 1999, when they were 6-10. Denver is 2-6 and does not have the look of a team on the rise. The Broncos are last in the NFL in rushing and they are 31st in stopping the run. The team has dealt with a lot of injuries. It looks like a team that is wearing down. Denver was competitive for the first six weeks of the season despite having a 2-4 record. But the Broncos were embarrassed in a 59-14 home loss to Oakland in Week 7 and that has become the lasting memory of this team in 2010 thus far.

Falling: Josh McDaniels, head coach: First, it doesn’t matter that McDaniels’ stock is falling. He is still fully expected to return to Denver for his third season. Denver ownership is not going to pay McDaniels, former coach Mike Shanahan and a new coach in 2011. Still, McDaniels is on the hot seat in the minds of Denver fans. There have been constant calls for McDaniels’ head since the 45-point loss to Oakland. After McDaniels started 6-0 last season, the Broncos are 4-14 and don’t appear to be headed in the right direction. McDaniels has also caught heat for several personnel decisions. It is not helping his cause that young castoffs Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain and Alphonso Smith are excelling elsewhere.

Rising: Denver’s passing game: McDaniels deserves credit for the success of the passing game. The Broncos stayed in games early in the season through the air. Denver quarterback Kyle Orton is having a terrific season. Orton has made great strides in his two seasons in Denver under McDaniels. Orton truly has been a top-tier quarterback this season. Denver’s receiving group has been excellent as well. Journeyman Brandon Lloyd is having an All-Pro season. He's having the best season of his NFL career at the age of 29.

Midseason MVP: Orton. Name 10 quarterbacks who are better than Orton right now. It’s tough to do.

Outlook: This has all the feel of being a lost season in Denver. After last season’s collapse, the Broncos didn’t have the type of offseason that made league observers think this team could quickly climb back into contention. Then, injuries battered the Broncos in training camp and the preseason. It just doesn’t seem like Denver can come back and be a factor this season. In the end, 2010 may be go down as one of the most forgettable years in Broncos' history.