On Sunday the Denver Broncos began the day on the outside looking in at the AFC playoffs. They needed a victory and some help from Baltimore to get themselves back inside the door. They got both. Now they are looking at the playoffs from the 6th spot. Can they stay there? They control their own destiny. How did they do it Sunday? Here are 3 observations from the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Defense, Defense, Defense
We all know that the Denver Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL. That comes as no secret. They played like it on Sunday. The held Blake Bortles to 181 yards passing with 0 TDs and 2 INTs. They also created 1 fumble that they recovered. One of the Bortles interceptions was returned for a pick 6, by Nickle CB Bradley Roby. They also had 1 sack. This was probably the most surprising stat of the day. Von Miller leads the league in sacks with 12.5 and was held without one on Sunday. But just as in true Denver defensive fashion someone else stepped up. They will need to continue this pace if they want to stay in the playoff picture.
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Kapri Bibbs needs more touches
The Denver Broncos are usually known for a strong running game. However, since they lost starting RB CJ Anderson to a knee injury they have had their struggles. Rookie RB Devontae Booker was supposed to come in and not miss a beat. Even though he has his moments the run game still lacks somewhat when he is in the game. On Sunday when 3rd string RB Kapri Bibbs entered the game, the run game seemed more explosive. He seemed to hit the holes a lot quicker and run with a burst that was lacking from Booker. I think, going forward, that Bibbs needs to get more touches. The offense may be able to open up a little bit more if they are able to establish the once vaunted Denver Broncos running game again.
Wake Up Gary Kubiak
If Sunday’s opponent was any team other than the Jacksonville Jaguars the Denver Broncos probably would have lost. The Broncos could only muster up 104 passing yards and 104 rushing yards. Those are not mind-blowing offensive stats. It clearly shows that Paxton Lynch is not ready. It also shows that, just as in the above observation, the Broncos need a better running game. Head Coach Gary Kubiak needs to be aware of all these intangibles moving forward. If they have to play any of their next 4 games without the services of Trevor Siemian, it could be a tough road. With a remaining schedule of the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Kanas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, there will be no sleep walking. If there is any sleeping at all the Broncos are done.
With all of the issues at hand, the Denver Broncos are currently a playoff team. They are most certainly not a title contender, but if they happen to get into to the tournament anything can happen. They will need to wake up on offense in order to compete. If they can do that, they must still have an outside chance at the division. Way outside.