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NFL Debrief: Way too early conclusions about the 2013 season

The preseason is nearly halfway over, thankfully, and we've already got a pretty good handle on how the year's going to turn out, we think.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason is halfway over, according to league sources. Soon enough you can ignore depth chart battles, third-string offensive tackles and Kevin Kolb. Until next August when Kolb resurfaces in Oakland in some staged "competition" with Teddy Bridgewater, which could actually result in Kolb starting again because this is the Raiders we're talking about.

Sure, it's easy to laugh at the preseason. And bashing it has now arrived at the point where it's more annoying than the glorified tryouts the NFL is spreading out over FIVE DAMN DAYS this week. Let's take a moment to appreciate full-priced exhibition football, before your hipster friends start forming preseason fantasy leagues when they get bored with reinventing bumper pool and Miller High Life.

Based on what we know right now, here are some wildly off-base conclusions to send you to the betting window wearing nothing but a knowing smile (because we're imaging this betting window at a nude beach in some lawless island nation).

Green Bay will struggle to score

The Packers scored their first preseason points last week, but the only touchdown came against the Rams' backups. Aaron Rodgers and the starters had to settle for field goals.

Because you forgot last year's preseason results (rightfully so, there's only so much space in your brain), you overlooked the fact that Rodgers had just one touchdown in four preseason games last year. Worse yet, he completed just 48.8 percent of his 43 preseason attempts in 2012.

He finished the regular season with a 67.2 percent completion rate. So things worked out okay.

The most impressive thing about Green Bay's preseason so far, among the starters anyway, has been their ability to keep Rodgers upright without left tackle Bryan Bulaga. Defenses will get much tougher once the regular season starts, throwing in more blitzes and a variety of looks. Still, this is an encouraging start for rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, who could be the most important NFL player out of Colorado since ... Koy Detmer?

Brandon Weeden, future MVP

Only Baltimore's Tyrod Taylor has thrown more touchdown passes than Weeden, four to three. But guess where Taylor's going to be come Week 1? Only Tarvaris Jackson has a QB rating better than Weeden, but Weeden leads all likely starting quarterbacks with a 139.8 mark.

The best part: the Browns STILL haven't named Weeden the starter.

Wouldn't want him to get complacent in his old age. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner can personally attest to that after a demonstrated ability to keep his job by coaxing middling results out of his underwhelming Chargers teams.

Weeden seems to fit better in the offensive approach prescribed by Chud and Turner. (Tell me again why Pat Shurmur's reputation with young QBs is earned?) His complementary players are improved, namely receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little. Tight end Jordan Cameron and a quietly effective offensive line are helping too.

Hold off on writing in Weeden on your MVP ballot. Even though this is a positive development for the Browns, he's not going to outperform Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and probably not his fellow 2012 draftees either. If he could be that mid-level, competent quarterback, capable of grabbing a few wins on his own at times, the Browns should finally win more than five games.

Weeden's preseason results might have Michael Lombardi looking for locally sourced, sustainably raised crow. But it could be his ideal situation, having a capable fill-in while the regime searches for its own guy.

Denver is doomed

Wait a minute, this preseason conclusion might actually have some merit to it, but it's got nothing to do with Peyton Manning's stats. What happened to the Broncos in this week's game is exactly what you never want to see in the preseason and why it's easy to hate exhibition football.

Wes Welker, Champ Bailey and Derek Wolfe all left the game with injuries of varying degrees. An ambulance took Wolfe off the field, one of the scarier moments of the season so far. All three players are starters being counted on to carry a significant share of Denver's Super Bowl hopes. And this was just the latest in a long list of mile-high misfortunes.

This is a succinct timeline of Denver's offseason, the low lights: A fax machine snafu that ended with Elvis Dumervil leaving, Von Miller possibly suspended, execs gone wild, Dan Koppen suffered a season-ending injury, Von Miller arrested, three starters injured in preseason play and now a possible six-game suspension for Miller.

Of all the injuries, Welker's could be the easiest to sustain. The offense is already loaded without him, and he's only day-to-day with a "minor" ankle sprain. Denver could be without three defensive starters for the early part of the season. Throw in the loss of Dumervil, and it's fair to wonder if the Broncos can rush the passer at all until Miller and Wolfe return. Bailey's an aging star, but still Denver's top corner.

The Broncos' first six games include the Ravens, Giants, Eagles and Cowboys. Denver should be favored in all of those games, normally. If that much of the defense is on the shelf, it could go either way, even against the Cowboys. Even if it's just Miller out for the first six games, it's still a dicey set of matchups to be without one of the game's best young pass rushers.

Denver isn't really doomed. Manning's taken thinner rosters than that deep into the playoffs. And there's still no determination about who will be out, if anyone, to start the season. This is still the AFC where making the playoffs compares to Boise State's admissions requirements, and the Broncos should win the AFC West by default. After that, it's anybody's guess.

Now, back to mapping out the inevitable Browns-Broncos showdown in the AFC Championship, writing off Aaron Rodgers and figuring out how where to purchase a Tyrod Taylor shirsey.

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