The Denver Broncos at 10-3 are being asked to prove a lot of things that most 10-3 teams do not have to prove. Expectations will do that, and this team came into the season with the highest expectations of any team in the league, including the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
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As the season has gone on, Denver has taken many forms as a team. Recently, the defense has gelled, putting big hits on opponents, and the offense has begun playing punch-you-in-the-mouth football. Remember when the defense was bend don’t break, and the offense was throwing the ball all over the place?
The Broncos are the chameleons of the league. They have been exactly what they needed to be to get a win 10 times this season. The other three games could not have been more different as losses. The loss to Seattle was probably the best loss of any team this season. The blowout to New England seemed scheduled, and was not a surprise in any way. The blowout to St. Louis was a shock to the system, and may have been the catalyst to important changes on both sides of the ball.
The Broncos are the chameleons of the league. They have been exactly what they needed to be to get a win 10 times this season.
Ignoring the fact that Denver has won recently by running first, it is clear that the passing game is struggling. Julius Thomas’s absence has proven how important he is to the pass attack. Jacob Tamme is not the answer, and Virgil Greene is important to the offense, but not the way JT is. Getting him back will be huge down the stretch. He opens up the field for the other receivers, and is a solid target in the red zone.
It would be silly to say Denver does not need Peyton Manning to be great to win, but his greatness can be measured in different ways. Sure, touchdown passes are an easy stat to point at, and total yards make a quarterback look good, but the most important stat is wins. Manning has been gathering wins this season, and he has picked up his wins however he could get them. Manning is proving he can do everything he needs to in the wins, including allowing the running game to take over. That is all that matters.
The defense is proving that it can blitz. It has been nice to see the Broncos get to the quarterback the last few weeks, and the disruptions have been a welcome change from the conservative approach of the earlier part of the season. The defense is coming together in a big way, and at the right time. Jack Del Rio has dialed up some very good game plans since the St. Louis meltdown. The defense is scary.
The front office and coaching staff is proving they are going to do everything it takes to win. Look at the kicking situation. Matt Prater was a distraction, so he was cut. Brandon McManus struggled to kick the ball through the uprights, and he was cut. Connor Barth can not kick the ball past the 5 yard line on kick offs, so they brought back McManus. No shame. No hesitation. Moves made with one thing in mind, winning.
What is left to prove? Can the Broncos win a game in adverse weather conditions? They will have to, as it seems more and more likely each week that New England will wrap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Manning will have to be great, but so will the running attack, defense, and special teams. The Broncos are proving each week that they are a team. It will take a team effort to accomplish the ultimate goal, a Super Bowl win.
Dec 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) after the game against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Bills 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports