The Denver Broncos at 1-5 are watching their season slip away and its not even November yet. Head Coach Sean Payton is trying to find a way to light a spark with a team that has been rather listless for years. This week, his message to fans centered around the 2022 Detroit Lions and how that team began the season 1-6 but nearly turned that into a playoff berth by seasons’ end.
“There’s a fine line here between a groove and a rut,” Payton said. “You take a look, and I’ll give you an example—Detroit. A year ago, I watched it as a media member, covering a handful of tough losses. They were 1-6. I know [Lions Head Coach] Dan [Campbell] well, and you keep fighting. There’s a grit element involved. Some mental toughness that’s involved. Pretty soon, here they are at the end of the season. They were eliminated before, but they were in contention. Here they are now as one of those teams. We’re kind of in that position.”
His comments made me want to do a quick comparison between this Broncos start to that 2022 Lions start and I quickly saw the comparison was not really a viable one. The reason can simply be put by looking at the teams each lost to during their ‘rut’. The combined winning percentage of the teams the Lions lost to during their 1-6 start was .637 with just one team finishing the season under .500 and that team was 8-9.
Against those playoff teams, the Lions lost two of those games despite scoring over 35 points. They were exciting and competitive while losing close games against good teams.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have lost three of their five games by 10 or more points - one of those being a 50 point loss to the Miami Dolphins. The other two were close home losses against non-playoff teams. I just don’t see how these 2023 Broncos are as dangerous as that 1-6 Lions team looked last season.
However, in the NFL the opponent and score doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you win football games. If Denver can turn this ‘rut’ into a ‘groove’ and stack a few wins against quality opponents, then yes, they can turn things around on a dime. We just haven’t seen that kind of heart and desire from this team in quite a long time.
Do you think the comparison to the 2022 Lions is a good one for these 2023 Broncos?
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