“Sports Authority Field at Mile High Entrance” by Thelastcanadian (CC BY-SA 3.0)
As teams hit their bye week, it is often a good idea to look at what they have done so far and if they have exceeded, or disappointed on their pre-season expectations. The most interesting bye week team this week is the Denver Broncos, who head in with a 3-1 record.
A gritty 24-12 victory over the LA Chargers got their season off to a steady start, but since then, we have seen the Broncos in a much better light. Their two best performances so far have come in victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders. Their 42-17 demolition of the Cowboys was something special, and by far the best we have seen from Denver not only this season, but also last season.
Sandwiched in between those two impressive victories was their only loss of the season, a 26-16 road defeat to the Buffalo Bills. That game saw the Broncos’ offensive players disappoint, but they still stood firm on defense, minus a couple of personal errors. After four games, their defense has received some very high praise from respected figures in the game and they look set to regain their crown as the league’s number-one defense this season.
The key has been the targeting, and stopping, of the number-one running back on the oppositions team. Many people were disappointed with Melvin Gordon against the Broncos when he ran for 54 yards on the ground in week one, although compared to what has happened since, that was a great performance. Ezekiel Elliot was only allowed nine yards on eight carries, LeSean McCoy had just 21 yards on 14 carries and most recently, Marshawn Lynch has just 12 yards from on nine carries.
After showing time and time again their ability to stop the leading backs of their opposition, the Denver Broncos are beginning to show signs they could be heading towards another tilt at the Super Bowl. We need to see more from then before they are declared as genuine contenders, but their defense has returned to the form it showed when they lifted the Super Bowl two years ago.
The latest NFL odds have Denver at +1600 to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, a price that is sure to decrease if their defense continues to perform like they are currently doing. When they return from bye week, their next two opponents are the New York Giants and the LA Chargers, two teams who have really struggled at the start of the season. That will give the Broncos a real chance to hit the ground running when they return to action, and if they do those Superbowl odds are surely going to shorten.
In a year where many teams are struggling for consistency, the Denver Broncos have laid down the marker when it comes to defensive play. Based on what we saw from them two years ago, that is certainly enough to give them hope of lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy once again in 2018.