The Denver Broncos started 1-5 and now have played their way to 7-6. At 7-6 with four games to play they have a legitimate shot at a wildcard spot and an outside chance at a division title. There are currently six AFC teams with 7-6 records:
Arguably, Denver has the easiest schedule of the six in the final four games since many of the six play each other, but not Denver.
The remaining games for the Broncos are @Detroit, New England, Chargers and @Loss Vegas.
The path to the AFC West title will be much tougher. If the Broncos win out and the Chiefs go 3-1 (a distinct possibility), then the Chiefs currently hold the head-to-head tie-breaker (as far as I can tell). The Chiefs have the exact same opponents as the Broncos with the exception of one - they play Cincy at home while Denver plays Detroit on the road. Their two remaining road games are @New England and @LAC. There are usually more fans of the other team at Charger’s home games than there are Charger fans.
A big reason for the Bronco turn around has been the improvement of the much-maligned defense (I did much of the maligning in the first month of the season). The defense allowed 198 points in the first six games (33.0 ppg) and has only allowed 111 in the last seven (15.9 ppg).
During the past 7 gms the Bronco D has allowed 111 points (15.9) ppg. In the first six games they allowed 198 points (33.0 ppg). So the D has allowed fewer than half the ppg they did in the first third of the season. They still face the Pats (32nd) and Faiders (28th) in scoring.— Joe Mahoney (@ndjomo76) December 11, 2023
It’s now surprise that the Bronco record in the first six games was 1-5 and the last seven it’s been 6-1.
Including the Broncos, only nine teams in the Super Bowl era have allowed 60 or more points in a game and the best that any of their defenses has finished was 18th of 26 teams (in points allowed).
You should also note that only the 1989 Oilers finished with a winning record and only they and the 1980 Packers won more than two games. It’s a long shot but the Broncos could finish this regular season five games over 0.500, which would be the best finish ever for a team that gave up a metric tonne of points in one game.
If you lower the threshold to 55 points allowed, then there are 60 instances of a team giving up 55 or more in a game. I didn’t check to see how all of those teams have done, but I would doubt that many finished the regular season with winning records. Feel free to check if you wish. The 2012 Colts finished 11-5 after giving up 59 to the Patriots (who are currently dead last in scoring offense - smirk). The 2017 Titans finished 9-7 after giving up 57 to the Texans. The 2020 Dolphins finished 10-6 after giving up 56 in the final regular season game to the Bills. The rest of the teams I looked at finished well below 0.500 with many having one or two wins.
The Bronco defense is currently 23rd in scoring at 23.8 ppg allowed. That is a huge jump from the dead last that the Bronco defense ranked earlier in the season. The Bronco defense is still worst in the league in yards per carry allowed at 5.13. The Patriots have the best run defense in the league allowing only 3.2 yards per carry.
The Bronco defense is currently 27th in passer rating allowed at 93.9 with the Saints leading the league at 74.7 and the Commanders allowing 106.0.
Getting pressure on the QB is a good way to limit any QB’s effectiveness. The Bronco D had six sacks and nine other QB pressures on Sunday. This was the 63rd time in team history that the defense has had six or more sacks. The most in team history was 10 back in 1969 in a win over the Bengals.