Just for kicks,
Denver opens 0-1

Sep 12, 2006 2:06 AM

There was no answer for St. Louis kicker Jeff Wilkens, who booted six field goals to expose the Broncos as a road favorite in the NFL season opener.

The MGM-Mirage opened Denver as a 3½ point favorite against the Rams and by kickoff the line moved up to 4½. Bad move. The Rams used Wilkens’ leg, plus five Denver turnovers to an 18-10 win.

Not since 2000 had the Broncos committed that many miscues and are facing a possible 0-3 start for the first time this decade if they don’t win this Sunday at home against division rival Kansas City.

The Week 3 opponent is New England on the road in Foxboro, where the Pats are 64-33 overall under coach Bill Belichek. But, that’s in two weeks. Right now the task at hand is KC, a team that saw its starting QB Trent Green taken off the field on a stretcher with a concussion last Sunday.

Without Green the Chiefs were game but no match for visiting Cincinnati in a 23-10 defeat at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs at least have a bye week following the Denver game, so there is time to regroup if they start 0-2. Not so with Denver, facing an early must-win situation with Tom Brady and the Patriots looming as the next opponent.

It was not a good opener for Jake Plummer, who threw a pair of interceptions and less than 150 yards. Plummer certainly needs a big game against KC to keep his growing critics from shouting for No. 1 draft pick Jay Cutler to replace him.

The Bells, Tatum and Bell, accounted for nearly 200 yards rushing and the lone Denver touchdown in a solid effort against the Rams. But Denver’s meager 10-point effort against a Rams team not noted for defense is disturbing.

The Broncos would like to duplicate last year’s 30-10 home win over KC, which came to Invesco Field as a 3-point underdog. Vegas books probably won’t issue a line out on this Sunday’s matchup until midweek when Green’s availability is decided. An offshore book opened Denver a 7-point favorite with the ”˜over/under’ at 43.

There are two good trends working in Denver’s favor this week. First, the Broncos are 7-3-1 ATS in the opening two games since 2001. Second, Denver has not started 0-2 SU since 2001.