The Denver Broncos have won five straight games for the first time since the 2015 season when they won the Super Bowl. The Broncos also won five straight games in the 2013, 2012 and 2011 seasons. Oddly enough they didn’t in the 2014 season, despite winning 12 games that year.
The last four times the Broncos have won five (or more) straight games, the season has ended this way:
- 2011 - Divisional round loss
- 2012 - Divisional round loss
- 2013 - Super Bowl loss
- 2015 - Super Bowl win
Call me a “downer” but this season has too many similarities to the 2011 season to not see a potential similar end in the future (loss in the divisional round). That 2011 team had a bad offense (finished 25th in points scored) and a bad, but opportunistic defense (finished 25th in points allowed). That defense only forced 18 turnovers during that season, but many of them (nine) occurred during the six-game win streak.
During the Broncos' current five-game win streak, the Broncos defense has forced 16 turnovers. That does not count the three times they stopped opponents on 4th down (which should count as a turnover in my opinion). The team overall is +13 in turnovers during the win streak. In 2011 the team was only +4 in turnovers during the six-game win streak.
The 2011 Broncos had a new head coach, John Fox, and the team started 2-5 before putting together six straight wins. The 2023 Broncos have a new head coach and started 1-5 before this current win streak. Prior to the 2011 win streak the Broncos defense was allowing 28.6 ppg which was near the bottom of the league. During the win streak the defense allowed 17.0 ppg.
For the 2023 defense, the team was allowing 33.3 ppg in the first six games and has allowed 16.0 ppg in the last five. Stating it another way, the Broncos allowed 200 points in the first six games and have allowed just 80 points since.
And yet another way, the defense allowed 70 points to the Dolphins and has allowed 80 combined points to the Packers, Chiefs, Bills, Vikings and Browns. Those five teams combined to have a record of 54-31 in 2022. All five teams are currently in the playoff hunt in 2023. You have to go way back to the late 90s to find five games where the Broncos beat “good” teams five times in a row.
With the improved play of the defense, the Broncos have moved to 28th in ppg allowed. However, if you remove the 70-point game from the equation, the Broncos would be 14th in ppg allowed.
If you remove the debacle against the Dolphins, the Bronco defense is allowing 21.0 ppg which would be good for 14th in the NFL right now. pic.twitter.com/VMOC0wvr0j— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) November 27, 2023
The offense currently sits at 14th in points scored per game (22.4). That is a dramatic improvement over the dead-last finish last season. 2022 was the first time in franchise history that the Broncos have finished last in scoring, even with those terrible teams in the 60s.
One reason for the year-over-year improvement that has not been discussed much is the improved overall health of the team (knocks on wood). At this point in the 2022 season the Broncos had 16 players on the IR. The Broncos currently only have 8, and three of them are the same as last season (Caden Sterns, Jonas Griffith and Tim Patrick).
The OL has started the same group of five guys at the same positions for the first 11 games of the season (again, knocks on wood and throws salt over left shoulder). This has not happened since the late 90s for the Broncos.
I also wanted to address a false narrative that I found on TwiXtter - that the Broncos play “dirty.” If that were the case, you would expect that they would lead the league in unnecessary roughness, roughing the QB and facemask penalties. They do not and are not even close in those three.
This narrative that the Bronco defense plays dirty is nonsense. The Bronco D is nowhere close to the league lead in unnec. roughness (4), facemask (3) or roughing the passer calls (2). https://t.co/rUsn6ocnZ0— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) November 27, 2023
Roughness - Jets (9)
Facemasks - Rams (5)
Roughing passer - Jets (5)
The inability to stop the run has not really hurt the Broncos during the win streak, but it will soon lead to a loss (IMO).
The Broncos defense is currently allowing 5.40 yards per carry which is the worst in the league by far. It came as a large surprise the Browns did not just try and pound the Broncos with their rushing attack last game.
The Browns are currently tied for the 4th in the league in total rushing yards (although they are the least efficient rushing team of the top rushing teams - averaging only 4.2 YPC). The only team in the top 10 in total rushing yards with an average that low is the Eagles. The Dolphins are currently leading the league with an average of 5.5 YPC (partly due to the insane number of rushing yards we allowed them).