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Stats just the way it is: Broncos’ stat review after the loss to the Lions

The Denver Broncos lost the line of scrimmage, thus they lost the game to the Detroit Lions.

Denver Broncos vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Denver Broncos lost both lines of scrimmage against the Detroit Lions. The offensive line was consistently pushed back when they tried to run the ball and most Bronco runners were having to dodge tacklers in the backfield to make yardage. The team did finish with 27 carries for 84 yards (3.11 YPC), but most of that came from Samaje Perine and Marvin Mims who got 48 of that 84 on 7 carries and even on those runs the runners were having to avoid tacklers in the backfield. The other Bronco runners (Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin and Russell Wilson) carried the ball 20 times for 36 yards. I removed the kneel-down. The Broncos had four runs for zero yards and one for negative three.

The OL also did a poor job of protecting Russ. While he was only sacked twice, he was quickly pressured on most of his dropbacks and was hit eight times when not being sacked. The Bronco defense didn’t have much success pressuring Jared Goff even when they sent blitzes. Goff seemed like he had all day to throw and he was absolutely surgical in cutting up the Bronco defense. He tied a career high with five touchdown passes and had a passer rating of 134.6 which was his sixth best ever.

The Bronco defense was also losing the line of scrimmage. The Lions ran the 28 times for 185 yards (6.61 YPC) and five of those runs went for ten yards or more. The Lions only had two runs that went for no gain or negative yards (one for 0 and one for negative 1). This was not surprising as the Lions are currently 4th in the league in YPC at 4.8.

This marked the fifth time the Bronco defense has allowed 175 yard rushing or more in a game this season. It firmly cemented the Bronco defense as the worst rushing defense in the league. There is almost no chance that they finish second to last in YPC allowed with only three games remaining. The Bengals are allowed a half a yard less per carry at this point. The Bronco D is allowing 5.23 and the Bengals D is allowing 4.72.

The Broncos D is in danger of finishing as the worst rushing defense in the Super Bowl era. They are currently 4th. Thankfully the three remaining opponents are near the bottom of the league in rushing yards per attempt, so the defense should be able to hold them in check in the run game. Shown below are the 20 worst rushing defenses in the Super Bowl era.

Rank Season Team Y/A G W L T W-L% Pts PtsO PtDif Att Yds Y/A
1 2022 LAC 5.4 17 10 7 0 0.588 391 384 7 457 2478 5.42
2 2013 CHI 5.3 16 8 8 0 0.5 445 478 -33 483 2583 5.35
3 2006 IND 5.3 16 12 4 0 0.75 427 360 67 519 2768 5.33
4 2023 DEN 5.2 14 7 7 0 0.5 304 351 -47 393 2057 5.23
5 2022 NYG 5.2 17 9 7 1 0.559 365 371 -6 469 2451 5.23
6 2022 DET 5.2 17 9 8 0 0.529 453 427 26 477 2491 5.22
7 2020 HOU 5.2 16 4 12 0 0.25 384 464 -80 493 2564 5.20
8 2003 KAN 5.2 16 13 3 0 0.813 484 332 152 453 2344 5.17
9 2012 NOR 5.2 16 7 9 0 0.438 461 454 7 457 2361 5.17
10 2019 CAR 5.2 16 5 11 0 0.313 340 470 -130 445 2296 5.16
11 1976 KAN 5.2 14 5 9 0 0.357 290 376 -86 555 2861 5.15
12 2012 IND 5.1 16 11 5 0 0.688 357 387 -30 428 2200 5.14
13 2008 DET 5.1 16 0 16 0 0 268 517 -249 536 2754 5.14
14 2019 JAX 5.1 16 6 10 0 0.375 300 397 -97 435 2229 5.12
15 2020 CIN 5.1 16 4 11 1 0.281 311 424 -113 463 2368 5.11
16 1973 NWE 5.1 14 5 9 0 0.357 258 300 -42 560 2850 5.09
17 2018 LAR 5.1 16 13 3 0 0.813 527 384 143 386 1957 5.07
18 1969 CIN 5.1 14 4 9 1 0.308 280 367 -87 523 2651 5.07
19 2011 OAK 5.1 16 8 8 0 0.5 359 433 -74 430 2178 5.07
20 2022 HOU 5.1 17 3 13 1 0.206 289 420 -131 573 2894 5.05

Allowing 42 points to the Lions dropped the Bronco D back down to 30th in points allowed. They are currently allowing 25.1 points per game head of only the Cardinals (26.9) and the Commanders (30.2). The Cardinals are the defense that was led by Vance Joseph last season. Again thankfully the remaining regular season opponents are not great at scoring points with the Patriots (32nd), Chargers (17th) and the Raiders (24th, even after putting up 63 last game). So the Bronco defense would really have to lay three straight eggs to finish dead last in scoring this season.

Despite the doom and gloom in this post, the Broncos still have a legitimate shot to win out. They get to face three more back-up QBs in Bailey Zappe, Easton Stick and Aidan O’Connell. The Bronco defense has done well against back-up QBs this season. The team also gets to play two of the next three at home.

This team could make the playoffs and once in the playoffs crazy things can happen, like the 2011 Broncos beating the heavily favored Steelers or the 7-9 Seahawks beating the heavily favored Saints (with Sean Payton as the head coach). Whatever the rest of the season holds, this season has been the most fun of any since the 2015 season.