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Stats got your tongue? Denver Bronco stat review for the loss to the Texans

Turnovers begot wins and now they beget a loss

Houston Texans take on the Denver Broncos during week 13 of 2023 NFL season Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

During the Denver Broncos five game win streak the team was +13 in turnover difference. One number minus another is a difference, not a differential. The team forced 16 and only had 3. In the loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday the Broncos turned the ball over three times and forced zero.

Those three turnovers were all interceptions. It was the first time this season that Russell Wilson has thrown more than two and it was only the sixth time in his career that he has thrown three or more INTs in a game. Coming into this week’s game Russ was 3rd all time in TD:INT ratio.

Only Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes have a better career TD:INT ratio than Russ 3.13 (as of today). He had a 3.22 before the game. Having only six of 185 games where he threw more than two picks is pretty impressive. He also only has 13 games with two interceptions. Russ currently has 329 passing TDs and only 105 INTs. Some guy you might have heard of named Tom Brady is 4th on the list. Brady finished his career 3.06. Only those four guys are better than 3:1 for their career. 3:1 used to be an unheard of ratio. Hall of Famer, Dan Marino, who was pretty good at avoiding INTs, finished his career with a ratio of 1.67:1. Hall of Famer, Troy Aikman finished his career with a ratio of 1.17:1 which is worse than Phil Simms, Steve McNair and Drew Bledsoe, all of whom played at roughly the same time as Aikman. I guess it helps to have a good supporting cast and good playoff performances, because based on regular season stats alone, Aikman does deserve to be in the Hall.

The Bronco defense did a good job of stopping the run against the Texans, but they were and are not a great rushing team. They are currently 29th in YPC and 24th in rushing yards per game. That made them a good match for the Bronco defense which came into the game as the worst rushing defense in the league. The Bronco D held the Texans to 90 yards on 29 carries (I remove the kneeldowns) or 3.1 YPC which is much better than the 5.4 YPC that our defense was allowing. This was only the fourth time in 12 games where the D has held the opponent under 100 yards rushing. The other three games were the loss to the Raiders, and the two games (one which the Broncos won!) against the Chiefs.

The terrible three game stretch earlier this year (games 3-5) where the Bronco D allowed 755 total rushing yards was the 4th most rushing yards allowed over three games in the Super Bowl Era.

Only the 2009 Chiefs (796) and the 2019 Bengals (751) are the only other two teams in the bottom 10 from this century. The Bronco D is still the worst in the league in terms of YPC allowed, but the Cardinals are now last in terms of rushing yards allowed with 1811, albeit in 13 games. The Bronco D is allowing 5.19 yards per carry. The Bengals D is 31st allowing 5.00. The Bronco D is going to have to have some games in the final five where we completely shut down the opponent’s running game to NOT finish dead last in YPC allowed. Having a game where we jumped out to a big lead and forced the opponent to throw in order to get back into the game would help. So far the Broncos really haven’t done that this year.

The largest lead that the Broncos have had this year was the 18 point lead that they had in the loss to Washington (which really hurts right now since they are currently 4-9 have won two of their last eleven games after starting the season 2-0).

The Broncos have a relatively “easy” final five games with two against the floundering Chargers (5-7), one against the feckless Raiders (5-7), and one against the dumpster fire Patriots (2-10). The only team left on the schedule that is playing well is the Lions (9-3). So while it will be an uphill climb to end the seven year playoff drought, it is not impossible. There are four AFC teams currently holding records of 7-5 and two other AFC teams that are 6-6.

The battle for the Wildcard spots in the AFC, for the AFCS title and potentially for the AFCW title all could be dogfights until the end. The Chiefs have lost three of their last five and they still have to play the Bills and Bengals although both will be home games for them. They will really have to stumble down the stretch for the Broncos to catch them. Their other three remaining games are against the Raiders, @ the Chargers and @ the Patriots.