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Stats in the belfry - Denver Bronco stat review Week 16

The Denver Broncos’ offense wastes another good defensive game.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos’ defense is currently allowing 17.3 points per game and has allowed 17 and 15 points in the last two Bronco games - both losses. The defense has now allowed 17 or fewer points in ten games this season. The Broncos are 7-3 in those games. In games where the team has allowed more than 17, the Broncos are 0-5. Also remember that the defense is directly responsible for only 26 of the 29 touchdowns allowed by the Broncos this season since the team has allowed a kickoff return TD, a fumble return TD and an interception return TD.

The ten games of holding opponents to 17 or below is the most a Bronco defense has had since 2004 when we also had 10. If the defense can hold the Chargers and the Chiefs (big ifs) to 17 or less, they can tie the 1991 Bronco defense that held 12 opponents to 17 or fewer. The best a Bronco defense has ever done is thirteen games of holding an opponent to 17 or fewer - in 1977 and 78. That 77 defense did it in 14 regular season games. The only regular season game where that D allowed more than 17 was in the 24-14 loss to the Raiders.

Year RS Games allowing 17 or fewer points PPG Allowed on season by Denver Average Points allowed/scored Denver D relative to League Average
2021 10 17.3 22.8 24%
2020 3 27.9 24.8 -13%
2019 6 19.8 22.8 13%
2018 4 21.8 23.3 6%
2017 4 23.9 21.7 -10%
2016 7 18.6 22.8 18%
2015 8 18.5 22.8 19%
2014 8 22.1 22.6 2%
2013 3 24.9 23.4 -6%
2012 8 18.1 22.8 21%
2011 7 24.4 22.2 -10%
2010 2 29.4 22.0 -34%
2009 7 20.3 21.5 6%
2008 4 28.0 22.0 -27%
2007 3 25.6 21.7 -18%
2006 6 19.1 20.7 8%
2005 9 16.1 20.6 22%
2004 10 19.0 21.5 12%
2003 8 18.8 20.8 10%
2002 6 21.5 21.7 1%
2001 6 21.2 20.2 -5%
2000 4 23.2 20.7 -12%
1999 7 19.9 20.8 4%
1998 8 19.3 21.3 9%
1997 7 17.9 20.7 14%
1996 10 17.2 20.4 16%
1995 5 21.6 21.5 0%
1994 6 24.8 20.3 -22%
1993 10 17.8 18.7 5%
1992 7 20.6 18.7 -10%
1991 12 14.7 19.0 23%
1990 6 23.4 20.1 -16%
1989 11 14.1 20.6 32%
1988 7 22.0 20.3 -8%
1987 9 19.2 21.6 11%
1986 8 20.4 20.5 0%
1985 6 20.6 21.5 4%
1984 11 15.1 21.2 29%
1983 7 20.4 21.8 6%
1982 2 25.1 20.2 -24%
1981 9 18.1 20.7 13%
1980 6 20.2 20.5 1%
1979 11 16.4 20.1 18%
1978 13 12.4 18.3 32%
1977 13 10.6 17.2 38%
1976 11 14.7 19.2 23%
1975 8 21.9 20.6 -6%
1974 8 21.0 18.2 -15%
1973 5 21.1 19.5 -8%
1972 3 25.0 20.3 -23%
1971 7 19.6 19.4 -1%
1970 7 18.9 19.3 2%
1969 3 24.6 20.9 -18%
1968 4 28.9 20.5 -41%
1967 2 22.9 21.8 -5%
1966 5 27.2 21.7 -25%
1965 3 28.0 23.1 -21%
1964 2 31.3 22.0 -42%
1963 2 33.8 22.0 -54%
1962 5 23.9 22.3 -7%
1961 2 30.9 21.5 -44%
1960 3 28.1 21.6 -30%

The 1977 Bronco offense scored 19.6 points per game which is 0.3 points per game fewer than the 2021 Bronco offense is currently scoring. Of course the league average score per game in 1977 was 17.2 so that 1977 Bronco offense was above average while the 2021 Bronco is near the bottom of the league (23rd).

As it stands right now, the Broncos are allowing 24 percent below league average scoring of 22.8 points per game. If that holds it will be the best a Bronco defense has done in relative scoring since the 1991 defense was 32 percent better than league average. That 77 defense was the best in team history at 38 percent better than league average.

One reason for the poor scoring offense is the Broncos continued poor performance on first and second down. The Broncos are still worst in the league by far at average yards needed to gain on third down - 7.9 (Chicago is second worst at 7.7). It’s actually impressive that the Broncos are 20th in 3rd down conversion rate given how many yards they need on the average third down. For comparison the Rams are the best in the league at 6.0 yards needed on their average third down.

In Sunday’s game against the Raiders the combination of a backup quarterback and a backup center led to a pitiful 18 rushing yards on 16 carries. That was tied for the third fewest rushing yards in a game in team history. The only two worse games were the 2008 game against Miami (14 rushing yards on 12 carries) and the 1972 games against Oakland (13 rushing yards on 24 carries). The Raiders defense now is responsible for two of the most pathetic rushing games in Bronco history. I will have to go back and look at the film to see how often the Raiders were in stacked boxes (eight or nine) against the Broncos, but if memory serves me right, they were able to shut down our running game without needing to stack the box.