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(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)
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Mile High Monday: Sutton shines, Lock might be out, Chiefs stumble

(Graphic by K.J. Rigli/Bonneville Denver)

The Broncos now have back-to-back victories as they shut out the Titans on Sunday by a score of 16-0 at Empower Field at Mile High. The last two weeks highlight what this could be building for the future. Even with only two wins, they are still alive in the seemingly wide-open AFC, but the Broncos will be hard pressed to make any sort of postseason run after digging themselves an 0-4 start to begin the 2019 season.

I like when this team is winning. The players are easier to talk to and the locker room is more fun to be around.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ – even though I had to put the hard top on this week due to the cold! The following is a result of those trips during the week.
Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Tip of the Iceberg

I’ve said it a hundred times on the air that wide receiver Courtland Sutton could be the steal of the 2018 draft for the Broncos. During his rookie season, Sutton had some struggles and showed that his game was still somewhat raw.

His game is much better now. After six games, Sutton is the NFL’s sixth-leading receiver with 477 yards. He’s been able to rack up these yardage numbers while only getting the 18th-most receptions at this time. Sutton isn’t getting the ball as much as others, but he’s producing at a high level – and we may not have seen the best of his game yet.

Vic Fangio agrees with me and thinks we may have just seen the tip of the iceberg with Sutton.

“I hope so. He’s a young player. He’s talented, he’s hungry and he’s a competitor. There should be more coming,” the Broncos head coach said.

Starting quarterback Joe Flacco has regularly targeted Sutton this season. In fact, most every week, Sutton will get targeted with passes eight or nine times. He has been targeted eight times in three contests this year, including against the Titans.

“Look at Courtland, when everybody pictures what they want a really good receiver to look like and be, it’s him. He looks the part and it’s very few times when a guy actually looks like that. He’s a great person, works really hard and he’s just a hell of a football player. You can see what he does, he is a legit No. 1 wide receiver, so I trust him to do whatever we ask him to do,” Flacco said.

Flacco is correct, Sutton is everything you want in a lead receiver. The future looks bright for this young playmaker.

***

Lock Out

Many Broncos fans are wondering if this team is going to activate rookie quarterback Drew Lock from the Injured Reserve list in the next couple of weeks. Lock is able to resume practicing this week, but cannot be activated until after Week 8 – if the Broncos choose to do so.

The NFL has a rule in place that only two players on Injured Reserve can be labeled “Designated to Return” and get back on the field. At this time, the Broncos have three realistic options to consider in Lock, running back Theo Riddick and wide receiver Tim Patrick.

If the team keeps winning, Lock may stay on the list. It’s unfortunate that Lock sustained an injury so early in his NFL career, but this may end up being a “redshirt” year for the young quarterback.

At this time of year, teams around the league are going to assess whether or not they need to take a look at a young or rookie quarterback. Take the Bengals, for example. As they keep losing, veteran quarterback Andy Dalton may be benched so the team can take a look at 2019 fourth-round pick Ryan Finley at quarterback instead. Denver might be in that same position had they not won their last two games.

Lock has a big arm, works hard and could be a future starter – and a good one – for the Broncos, but they don’t need to rush him back. If they’re winning, then Lock can stay down and the team can march forward with Flacco. If they’re losing, then perhaps they still keep Lock down with the idea that they would add a first-round quarterback in the 2020 NFL draft with a top-10 or even top-5 pick.

I like Lock, but the truth of the matter is that as a second-string quarterback, Lock is going to get little to no work with the first-team offense in practice. There is simply no reason to get Lock off Injured Reserve unless Flacco is hurt. It stinks, but we may not see Lock in 2019.

***

Two Losses Equals Bad News

The Chiefs are arguably the best team the Broncos will face all season long. They began the 2019 season with a 4-0 start, but they fell from the ranks of the undefeated last week when they were beat by the Colts.

On Sunday against the Texans, the Chiefs did not get back on the winning track. Instead, the Texans won by a score of 31-24 and I think that’s bad news for the Broncos.

The Chiefs are an incredibly talented team on the offensive side of the ball and there is no doubt that they will be hyper-focused after dropping two games in a row. It’s going to be an interesting game to watch on Thursday night, especially because these two teams are going in different directions over the last two weeks.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was emphatic when I asked him about the Chiefs game coming up on Thursday.

“I’m hyped up. I can’t wait. You all don’t have to ask me about the Titans anymore, I’m ready for the Chiefs. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to every year,” Harris said.

I had to ask Von Miller about the Chiefs game at his postgame press conference and I wanted to know whether or not Miller had some advice for younger players in regards to this matchup.

“Don’t even worry about it. Just come out there and play y’alls game. Play Broncos football, 2019 Broncos football. Don’t worry about any of the other years we’ve played them,” Miller said.

I know the veterans on this team are more than ready to get it done against the Chiefs. However, the younger players on this roster need to stay even emotionally and not get too high after beating a bad Titans team. The Chiefs are down over the last two weeks, but they are most certainly not out and could beat the Broncos badly if the team lets them. I hope to see the Broncos play better on offense while also continuing to see this defense make big plays.

***

RIP Fortnite

I never thought I would be writing about Fortnite, but here we are. As I waited for the Broncos game to start on Sunday, I was scrolling through Twitter and reading some of the conversations around the NFL game action from Week 6.

I happened to notice Fortnite was trending and wondered why. As a lifelong gamer (I do cover eSports for 1043TheFan.com), I’m not a huge Fortnite guy as my battle royale game of choice is PUBG (Player’s Unknown Battle Ground). Fortnite is more popular for younger players and it lacks the realistic action that other battle royales like PUBG or Call of Duty “Blackout” has.

Turns out that Fortnite is trending because the game was mysteriously eliminated in a publicity stunt that obviously worked.

With the game down, perhaps there is a certain backup Steelers quarterback who can now concentrate more on football and less on video games. It sounds like Fortnite is going to come back, and Epic Games (who makes the game) hopes it is bigger and better than ever.