The Denver Broncos believe they are still in the hunt for a playoff appearance. They now have the slimmest chance of all AFC West teams to make it, the ESPN NFL Power Index indicating there is a 22 percent chance. Their mindset is now to play every remaining game like it’s a playoff game.
Denver Broncos Must Treat Every Remaining Game Like a Playoff Game
As ESPN’s Jeff Legwold reported, safety Kareem Jackson pointed out with five games left, “each one is a playoff game for us.” That’s the right attitude to have, but is it too little, too late? Denver needs to start scoring more touchdowns, which sounds insanely simple, but the way each quarter of the last several games have turned out, it won’t be simple at all.
Despite ESPN’s NFL Power Index giving the Broncos a 22 percent chance of making the playoffs, they are still ranked 15th on that index versus all other teams. Additionally, it shows that their true strength on a net points scale puts them ever so slightly ahead of half the league, including teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders. They are three of the 11 teams in the AFC that have the same or better record than Denver.
The Fight Is Still On
The Broncos have two home games the next two weeks against the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. Then they will conclude the regular season with games against Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Surtain II had his fourth interception of the season against Kansas City’s primetime destruction of Denver. The rookie is one of the more promising talents on the roster, his exceptional speed making him a top-five cornerback. “We obviously know there are opportunities out there… we’re going to see them again later down the road … we’re going to keep on fighting, going to keep on doing what we need to do.”
Offense Must Improve in the Red Zone
Broncos defense was able to limit Patrick Mahomes to 15 completions and zero touchdown passes. That is a good enough performance to keep Denver in the playoff conversation, but just barely. Offense however, is deficient in the red zone. They should be making more touchdowns and they have not resembled anything near an efficient performance there. They need to start faster as well – consecutive three-and-outs in the first quarter gave room to the Chiefs to jump to a 10-0 lead.
The pinnacle of frustration came in the second quarter. The Broncos wasted 11:07 of that quarter on a 20-play drive, failing to convert to a fourth-and-2 from the Chiefs’ 8-yard line. This kind of time and energy wastage must stop.
Win or Go Home
None of the Broncos draft picks since 2016 have experienced a playoff game with this team. Brandon McManus is the only Super Bowl 50 player remaining. However, the morale is still strong. Sutton says the belief to finish the season strong is there amongst the guys. “We have five games left and they’re all playoff games. We hold our destiny in our hands, you know, taking these five games like playoff games. It’s win or go home mentality for us. The locker room understands that.”
The Broncos have arguably some of the league’s top talent on the roster and they won’t be letting these losses get the better of them. Whatever happens the remainder of the season, they have the capabilities of improving next year and beyond.