Crush console Broncos fans

Jan 31, 2006 12:03 AM

Football fever has gripped Denver — Arena football, that is.

What! You’ve got to be kidding. This is Broncos country, still sulking from Jake Plummer’s four-turnover blowup in the AFC title game against Pittsburgh.

Yeah, but the Colorado Crush is the defending Arena Football League champions and a 4-1 favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook to repeat! Even so, it was longtime Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s decision to take over as head coach at Houston that made all the local and national headlines.

Bottom line: Loyal Colorado football fans can use the Pepsi Center as a form of cleansing to ease the wound of a near Super Bowl appearance most felt Denver would grab with home field advantage.

So where do the Broncos need to improve? At 8-1 and tied with NFC champ Seattle for fourth best to win the 2007 Super Bowl, according to the Hilton SuperBook, Denver is hardly in bad shape. Obviously the doubts are back about Plummer’s ability to win the big game and running game needs to show more consistency.

It’s too early to tell how the loss of Kubiak will affect the offense. For sure, he had a very good relationship with Plummer. But business is business and the head job with the Texans obviously was too good an opportunity to turn down. Plus, it’s a homecoming for Kubiak, a fine QB in his day at Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, the Crush is back and focused on winning a second straight AFL title. The fortunes will fall squarely on the shoulders of QB John Dutton, who returns as the team’s one and only at that vital position.

The Crush began the 16-game season last Sunday at the Pepsi Center against Chicago. This Sunday, Colorado plays its first road game in Atlanta against the Georgia Force, rated second choice at 4-1 by MGM Mirage to win the league title. It will be a rematch of last year’s Arena Bowl XIX title game, won by the Crush 51-48.

Colorado team captain Willis Marshall, who plays both on offense and defense, told The Denver Post that most players in the league believe the Crush are the team to beat.

"I really think that this year we should be a dominant No. 1 team," Marshall said. "If we can get the home field advantage for the playoffs, our chances of repeating are 90 percent or better."

The Broncos would beg to differ.