The reminiscing is over. Time to put the past behind you. Our slightly cracked crystal ball is going to tell us what’s in store for the year ahead:
January 11th, Denver. Sunsets are orange for a reason. In the latest of a series of epic playoff battles between two of the AFC’s finest franchises, the upstart Pittsburgh Steelers come to Denver – the site of the Tebow Miracle of 2011 – and stun the Broncos 27-17 to end Denver’s season short of another trip to the Super Bowl. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning finishes a pedestrian 22-42 for 216 yards and a touchdown, but also throws two interceptions, the last leading to the Steelers clinching touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
January 12th, San Francisco. Former Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase is named the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. On the same day, Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio turns down an offer from the Oakland Raiders and John Elway announces that head coach John Fox will return for a fifth season in Denver.
February 1st, Glendale, AZ. How ’bout them Cowboys? Having already shocked the football world by ousting defending champion Seattle in the NFC playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys complete an astonishing turnaround season by rolling over the New England Patriots 31-27 to win Super Bowl 49.
March 17th, Scottsdale, AZ. Troy Tulowitzki returns to the Colorado Rockies line-up in a spring training exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels, going 1-2 with a walk and playing a spotless three innings at shortstop. Tulo declares himself injury free.
April 6th, Indianapolis. Proving that the “one-and-done” thing can occasionally work out, the Kentucky Wildcats finish off and unbeaten season by drubbing Big Ten champion Wisconsin 82-56 to claim the school’s ninth National Championship. The tournament featured three Colorado teams, including the Colorado Buffaloes and Denver Pioneers, who each lost in the first round, the Colorado State Rams, who edged Maryland 58-56 in the first round before falling to Villanova to end their season.
April 21st, Denver. After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Denver Nuggets hire Chauncey Billups and name him executive vice president of basketball operations.
April 25th, St. Louis. The Colorado Avalanche drop decisive game seven to the St. Louis Blues 4-1 and are eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs for the second straight season.
April 28, Denver. On the eve of the NFL Draft, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning stuns the football world by announcing his retirement from the NFL. Manning sites an undisclosed injury and his inability to train during the off season as the reason he’s calling it a career after 17 seasons. The Denver Broncos immediately announce Manning will go up on the Ring of Fame during the upcoming season.
May 2nd, Chicago. One day earlier, with the 54th pick of the second round of the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected former Colorado State standout quarterback Garrett Grayson. After a series of trades, Denver nabs the son of a former Broncos running back and Boulder Fairview High School product Kenny Bell out of Nebraska in the sixth round.
June 7th, New York. Another stunning turn of events for the NFL involving the Broncos and the Manning family: Denver acquires quarterback Eli Manning from the New York Giants in exchange for quarterback Brock Osweiler and two future draft picks, including the Broncos first round pick in 2016. The younger Manning, who was about to enter the final year of his contract with the Giants, signs a $72 million, four-year extension with the Broncos that will take him to age 37.
July 30, Denver. On the eve of the Major League Baseball trading deadline, the Colorado Rockies pull the trigger on two franchise changing trades, sending All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to the Big Apple. Tulo goes to the New York Mets for pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, plus two more prospects to be named later. Cargo heads to the Yankees in exchange for infielder Rob Refsnyder and two more prospects to be named.
September 13, Denver. In his first game as the new starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Eli Manning completes 23 passes in 39 attempts for 249 yards and a pair of touchdown as Denver beats San Diego and Phillip Rivers 34-23.
September 19th, Denver. The first year head coach had won the last three times Colorado and Colorado State met at Sports Authority Field. Not this time. In his first game at CSU, new head coach Mike Bobo sees his Rams upended by the Buffs 38-28. CU quarterback Sefo Liufau goes 25-40 with four TD passes and Biletnikoff Award Candidate Nelson Spruce outshines CSU All-American receiver Rashard Higgins. Spruce has 11 catches, including three touchdowns. CU (1-2) wins its second game of the season, while CSU falls to 1-3.
November 28th, Fort Collins. Air Force defeats CSU 31-24 to complete an 8-4 regular season and secure a second consecutive bowl berth. The Rams finish the season 5-7 and will not make a third consecutive bowl game in Mike Bobo’s first season as head coach. Meanwhile, the Colorado Buffaloes fall to Utah 44-31 to finish Mike McIntyre’s third season with an improved record of 5-8.
December 20th, Denver. Eli Manning passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Denver Broncos over the Minnesota Vikings 41-16 to clinch a fifth consecutive AFC West title. Denver will once again be the second seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
Then it will be on to 2016. Stay tuned.