Strength of Victory - SD vs. Den

I know that strength of victory is a dubious means for comparing the quality of two teams, but I couldn't resist the temptation to look at common games that the Broncos and the Chargers have played. I'm not really going to analyze them very deeply, but my general impression is that when the Broncos are on their game they beat their opponents more soundly, but when they aren't (or when Orton is hurt), the Broncos lose worse (but then Rivers hasn't been hurt, so there's no comparison of the two teams without their starting quarterbacks). One way or another, when it comes to the Win-Loss column, the fates of the Broncos and Chargers seem so far to be linked this year. With that in mind, let's look at it team by team, in the order the games were played by the Broncos (because I'm a homer).

Cleveland Browns


Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

W 27-6--------------------------------------------------------- W 30-23

Net Yds: 449 to 200---------------------------------------- 477 to 372

TO Diff: +2----------------------------------------------------- +1

TOP: 32:44---------------------------------------------------- 29:23


Analysis: The Browns are a different team now under Brady Quinn than they were earlier in the year (despite that Quinn quarterbacked the Broncos game), but nevertheless only one other team has allowed the Browns to post more than 20 points on them (or 3 touchdowns) so far this year. That would be the Lions. The Lions. I'll be fair and say I didn't get to see the Chargers game this week, so maybe the game looked better on the field, but the Chargers gave up almost twice as many yards as we did. In part, their defense is weaker than ours in a game like this, but also their offense is more imbalanced, so they give more opportunities to the opponent because they keep their own defense on the field more of the game.




@ Oakland Raiders


W 23-3---------------------------------------------------------W 24-20

Net Yds: 372 to 137----------------------------------------317 to 366

TO Diff: +2-----------------------------------------------------+1

TOP: 36:15----------------------------------------------------28:23


Analysis: It isn't entirely fair to judge week 1 performances, but the Broncos played the Raiders pretty early, too. If you look at the numbers, the Chargers basically just squeeked out a win. If Gradowski had been the QB from the start of training camp instead of Russel, I bet they would have lost this one. Anyway, it is abundantly clear that the Broncos dominated the Raiders, whereas the Chargers, to be fair, managed a win in the clutch but basically played down to their competition.




Denver vs. SD (and SD vs. Den)

Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

W 34-23------------------------------------------------------- W 32-3

Net Yds: 328 to 311---------------------------------------- 348 to 271

TO Diff: +1----------------------------------------------------- +3

TOP: 30:43---------------------------------------------------- 37:52


Analysis: Excuses are crap, to be sure. But the Chargers victory was a rout that, in my opinion, would never have happened if a healthy Orton had started at quarterback. I'll just pick a quick scab and say that McDaniels should have made Branstater the #2 QB at the beginning of the season. Nothing against Simms, but a same-handed quarterback fits much better into a system, so the strong side of our pass protection wouldn't become our weak side. Anyway, this one got out of hand after the goal-line fumble and we never got back in the game. I think we could have, but we went into desperation mode. Maybe because after the Steelers and Ravens games, we just didn't trust our defense. Anyway, rightfully, these two games should even out. You really can't compare them because if Rivers hadn't started the first game, that might well have been a similar rout. Anyway, I think it's clear that I'm still upset with week 11, so let's move on.




Baltimore Ravens

Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

L 7-30---------------------------------------------------------- L 26-30

Net Yds: 200 to 292---------------------------------------- 311 to 474

TO Diff: -1----------------------------------------------------- -1

TOP: 26: 23--------------------------------------------------28:41


Analysis: Maybe I'm starting to see a trend here. The yardage differential was much greater in the Chargers game, but they kept it closer. They obviously capitalized more on their opportunities more. Maybe they had more faith in their ability to pull off a victory. There seemed to be a turning point in the Broncos losses after which they got dispirited and desperate, stopped being patient and waiting for opportunities and started taking stupid unnecessary risks (from bad throws to onside kicks). I hope that the camaraderie of the players and staff have improved some by now, so that hopefully in future games they will stay patient when things don't seem to be going their way, keep playing the best ball they can. I think that's maybe how you avoid blowouts. You get blown out when you start thinking that you can't win. When they get in your head. A lot of the stats from these two games aren't that different. The results shouldn't have been that different. If we lose again, I'm hoping we at least get our licks in. As for the Chargers, the fact that they kept fighting to the end shows some character. The fact that they didn't win I think points to some weak areas in their team. But a lot of the more important starters have been playing together for a few years now on that team, so they probably trust each other more than the Broncos players do just yet.




Pittsburgh Steelers

Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

L 10-28-------------------------------------------------------- L28-38

Net Yds: 242 to 375----------------------------------------251 to 497

TO Diff: -1----------------------------------------------------- 0

TOP: 26:57--------------------------------------------------- 19:40


Analysis: The Broncos game doesn't look as bad on paper as it did live. I thought the turnover differential was worse than what it actually was. I think the 3 Orton interceptions were a reflection of that desperation factor I was discussing under the Baltimore game. It seemed like we had some success running on the edges of the field, but we only did that rarely. I'm still at a loss to explain the Broncos loss. The best I can postulate is that it was a failure of confidence. The Chargers actually got dominated much harder in their matchup against the Steelers (though in fairness they were playing in 3 Rivers). That Time of Possession is just embarrassing. Sure, it's an incredible stat if you win like the Colts did in the Dolphins game, but it basically means you lost at the line of scrimmage. You could theorize that part of the reason the Broncos didn't score the way the Chargers did at the end of the game is that Tomlin realized how dangerous it was to institute Garbage Time at the end of the game. But mainly I think it was just another rout where the Broncos got demoralized. (I notice when I'm talking about the *bad* Broncos, I say they, but when it's the *good* Broncos, I say we.) Based on anything but the score, we played a more complete game against the Steelers. We couldn't put points on the board, though.




New York Giants

Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

W 26-6--------------------------------------------------------- W 21-20

Net Yds: 373 to 267---------------------------------------- 226 to 304

TO Diff: +2----------------------------------------------------- -1

TOP: 35:30---------------------------------------------------- 22:13


Analyze: I'm not going to say the Chargers are lucky for winning their game. Everyone who's watched the Chargers knows that they could march down the field and score a touchdown in a minute if you play conservative Defense against them. You can't play soft defense, and you can't make a conservative call on offense when you have a chance to put the game away. Coughlin lost the game for his team by not going for a touchdown. There couldn't have been a difference between being up by 3 and being up by 6, especially not if you're going to give Rivers prevent. Yeah, I'm still pissed at the Giants for losing that game. You jabones! You should have won it! Look at time of possession and turnover differential! For that alone, we dominated you. If you're not going to help us out in our division race, we'll just make you look like a division B team. Anyway, there's no comparing these two victories. More was made out of the Chargers victory because they're media darlings, and the win extended their Chiefs/Raiders winning streak. But the Broncos, again, played a far more complete game.




@ Kansas City Chiefs

Broncos------------------------------------------------------- Chargers

W 44-13------------------------------------------------------- W 37-7

Net Yds: 413 to 222----------------------------------------403 to 203

TO Diff: 0------------------------------------------------------+3

TOP: 35:55--------------------------------------------------- 32:45


Analysis: The Chiefs are horrible. What is wrong with the Steelers that they got beet by this team?




There are 6 games remaining that would appear on this list. The Chargers have yet to play the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Washington Redskins. The Broncos have yet to play the Philadelphia Eagles, the Oakland Raiders in Denver, and the Kansas City Chiefs in Denver.


Conclusion. The Chargers and the Broncos are both good teams, contenders. The Broncos play a complete game against tough opponents more often, in my opinion. If the Broncos play a complete game, which they can, the Chargers will be hard pressed to beat them in the playoffs. Assuming Orton is healthy (and Dawkins).


Predictions: The only question mark remaining on the Broncos schedule is the Indianapolis Colts. If they play a complete game, they have a fair chance to win. Who knows if that happens. Philly could go either way. The Broncos could lose any of their remaining games if they let themselves lose their composure. They need to keep their heads up at all times and keep striving for victory (not perfection). As for the Chargers, they seem to have a hard time beating some of the tougher opponents that the Broncos beat handily (or less tough opponents, like the Browns). The Broncos needed a dash of luck to beat the Bengals (even though they dominated them most of the game). I don't see the Chargers beating the Bengals without getting really lucky. But then, luck seems to be one of the Chargers' strong suits. The Chargers may win the rest of their games, but the Broncos will still likely make the playoffs and will have a good chance of beating the Chargers there.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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