After a quarter of the season, Broncos fans have to be pleased. The team is 3-1, and two of the most glaring weaknesses of 2016 have transformed into noteworthy strengths. The rushing attack is excellent so far this year behind a revamped offensive line, to be outdone only by an even more stellar run defense.
Throw in the No Fly Zone and some QB play at least varying mostly between decent and very good and people are starting to take notice of the Broncos. The team that many pundits had pegged as a fading power is establishing itself in the top 5 teams in the league.
50 carries, 95 yards and 0 TDs allowed to these 4 running backs.— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2017
That 2017 @Broncos run defense has been pic.twitter.com/iH4ovahyJ8
Note: Cracks included for aesthetics only, I think. Those guys bounced off this wall without leaving a scratch.
Mile High Report:
Last Week: 5 (+3)
It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t even necessarily pretty. But the Broncos’ No Fly Zone was in full effect in the most critical game any teams played in the first quarter of the NFL season. But the real star of the show Sunday afternoon? Ground Control; the Broncos’ utterly dominant front seven. Marshawn Lynch rushed 9 times to the tune of a paltry, embarrassing 12 yards.
But what really matters is this: regardless of style points, the Broncos are 3-1 and already own a 2-0 division record. They have a bye week to address what issues they have, and great prospects of making the postseason.
Hope Rankings, Week 5
Per usual: Note that these are “hope” rankings based on the outcome of the most recent game, not power rankings and certainly not standings.
3. Denver Broncos
Last Week's Ranking: 5
The Denver Broncos controlled the game against the Oakland Raiders all day long. It should never have been as close as it ended up being.
The one thing with Denver this year is the team needs to find ways to close out games. The Broncos had a chance to do that with a chip-shot field goal in the second half that would have made the game 19-10 and really put it out of reach, but it was missed.
Fortunately, safety Justin Simmons was able to seal the game with an interception. He's showing why the Broncos were able to let T.J. Ward go.
Offensively, Denver has a strong running game. When Trevor Siemian takes care of the ball, the offense can be dangerous because he can make some plays with his arm and with his legs. The strength of this team is still the defense, though, and we saw that Sunday.
4. Denver Broncos
2017 record: 3-1
Week 4 ranking: No. 5
The Broncos' rush defense has allowed 2.4 yards per rush and 50.8 rush yards per game through the first four weeks -- and that was done against backs such as Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch and Melvin Gordon (among others). Defense has won Denver a title before, and if it keeps this up, it might be able to do it again.
The Broncos will play 6 more games against backs who’ve gone to the Pro Bowl, and that’s not counting two against excellent rookie Kareem Hunt. But given the caliber of back and offensive lines Ground Control has faced so far, it’s hard to say it’ll actually get any harder for the Broncos’ run D than it’s already been.
5. Denver Broncos (3-1, LW: 7)
I’m fairly shocked Jamaal Charles looks this good. Usually players don’t lose it, then find it again at age 30. Charles doesn’t exactly look like his prime form, but he’s clearly going to be a factor for the Broncos.
6. Denver Broncos (+9)
They've faced RBs Melvin Gordon, Zeke Elliott, Shady McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. Denver has allowed an average of 50.8 rushing yards per week.
8. BRONCOS (+3)
For the second straight week, the defense kept the Broncos ahead, with the running game pitching in when it mattered. The story continues to be the ferocious pass rush -- and that story includes a chapter on Derek Carr getting knocked out of this game. No one this side of Simon Fletcher and Rulon Jones anticipated EJ Manuel hurling a few throws right through the "No Fly Zone," but the second-stringer flew first class for a chunk of the fourth quarter. Jared Cook's drop in the end zone with under six minutes remaining would be the best chance the Raiders would get. In desperation time, Manuel threw a 50-50 ball for Amari Cooper that was more like, uh, 10-90. Pick. That's the point with Joe Woods' defense -- opponents will receive a few chances to make big plays. They'd better make them.
A rather one-sided take, in my opinion. One could as easily point out that if Brandon McManus’s chip shot field goal try had doinked inward rather than outward (a difference of maybe 2-3 inches), the Broncos would have been up by 9 and none of Oakland’s late-game desperation would have mattered a bit.
6. Denver Broncos (3-1)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Points in MMQB Power Poll: 446
Highest-Place Vote: Third (3)
Lowest-Place Vote: 10th (4)
Last Week’s Result: Win vs. Oakland, 16-10
Week 5 Opponent: bye week
4. Denver Broncos (3-1) | Last Week’s Rank: 17
Don’t even try to run the ball against this Denver defense. The Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch stood no chance Sunday. The Broncos are tough to beat when QB Trevor Siemian doesn’t make major mistakes. They have emerged as the primary challenger to the Chiefs in the AFC West.
Mind you, this is the joker who dropped the Broncos from 7th to 17th last week. A 13 spot jump is only correcting for earlier over-reaction.
5. Broncos (+6)
The defense will keep him up here all season long. They still need to get more out of the offense.
Beating the Raiders popped the Broncos’ expected win total back up to 10-6, rounded. And the projected chance of the Broncos making the playoffs and winning the AFC West increased by 13% and 3% respectively.
#3 Denver Broncos
The Broncos’ nERD surged 0.98, but there’s some weirdness going on here. The Chiefs jumped from 4.84 to 7.14. They deserve the top spot at the moment, so that part’s fine as it goes, though I question the huge jump from week to week. The Patriots are the head-scratcher, though, jumping 1.66 nERD points to leapfrog the Broncos... after losing at home to the Panthers. All I can guess is maybe someone in the data entry department typo’d.
2. DENVER (3-1)
LAST WEEK: 6
Why is Denver so high? Because their combined offense/defense per-possession efficiency rank is the league's highest through four weeks.
The Broncos have the league's best record in the first quarter of the season the last five seasons, going 17-2 in Weeks 1-4 since 2013. Now they must sustain their start.
A couple of nice stats there from Mase. The Broncos have started fast, per usual. Can they keep it up? Personally, I like their odds.
Can the Broncos keep it up? We’ll have to wait until after this early Bye week to find out. But upcoming games against the currently winless Giants and Chargers give us good reason to hope for a hot start coming off the Bye. The going will get tougher after that, though, with contests versus the Chiefs, Eagles, and Patriots in Weeks 8 thru 10.
But for now, Broncos Country, we’ve got some extra time to savor the AFC West victory over the Raiders.
Where do you rank the Broncos after 4 games?
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