With Thumping of Raiders, Broncos Look Ready for Playoffs


Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 47-14. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long, turbulent season for the Denver Broncos.

Significant lineup/game plan changes, crushing injuries, and constant General Hospital-like drama have all created a roller coaster ride that every member of Broncos Country probably wanted to get off of.

After routing the lowly Oakland Raiders 47-14, the Broncos now look ready to put their regular season turbulence behind them, putting their best foot forward in the hopes of making a deep run in the playoffs.

In such a competitive conference, though, Denver may find it more difficult than in recent years to make it back to the mountaintop. As the second seed in the AFC, they’ll either get the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, or the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

All teams are solid, competitive teams that can possibly give the Broncos some serious issues. Behind their top ranked offense, the Steelers are riding a hot streak into the playoffs and if they’re able to make it out of the wild-card round, look for them to give Denver trouble.

Nevertheless, the Broncos are still no slouch themselves. Between them and that one team in Foxborough, they stand together as the most complete teams in the AFC, if not all of the NFL.

Making it to Glendale, Arizona is firmly in the realm of possibility for Denver. On both sides of the ball, they look more than capable of fully accomplishing such a feat. In having to trudge through such a grueling schedule, the Broncos have shown that they have what it takes to win playoff-type football.

On Offense

Since their 39-36 comeback victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 12, the Broncos have gone with a ground and pound type of offense instead of the finesse, air-it-out approach.

The switch has done wonders as the emergence of tough runner C.J. Anderson has come about and he now leads the way as the centerpiece in the Broncos’ offense. His three touchdowns versus the Raiders tied his career high and he ended his first meaningful season with over 1,000 yards of total offense with ten touchdowns to match.

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Their passing game is still explosive but Peyton Manning’s play has been under scrutiny and question recently, but in reality, he’s just fine. His performance under center is still about the same as it was a year ago, when he shattered nearly every single season record possible for a quarterback. That high level of play simply rides on if the offensive line is able to adequately protect Manning or not.

The offensive line has been serviceable for the Broncos, but have proved to be problematic for the offense, as a whole. They’re the key to how far Denver goes in the playoffs and will be worth watching for when either the Bengals, Steelers or Colts come to Mile High.

On Defense

The revamped “Orange Crush” unit has been steady all year long. Denver’s defense hasn’t always played up to their potential, but they’ve kept the Broncos in a number of games this season.

As of late, their defense has really finally come together as one. Besides their Monday night letdown in Cincinnati, the Broncos have only been allowing an average of 14.25 points per game since Week 13. Denver’s offseason defensive acquisitions, like Aqib Talib, are playing lights-out and are gelling within Jack Del Rio’s system. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), both starting cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Talib have been the first and twelfth best cornerbacks in the league this season, respectively.

Injuries are the only thing that will hold this unit back at this point.

The Bengals, in particular, were able to expose their interior deficiencies last week. With the loss of linebacker Brandon Marshall and the sudden insertion of the inexperienced Steven Johnson and rookie Todd Davis, running back Jeremy Hill and Co. carved up the Broncos’ defense for 207 yards on the ground. While shoddy tackling did assist in that number, look for the return of Marshall to make a huge difference in the divisional round.

The Broncos’ defense is making big-time plays and has been shutting down opponents on a consistent basis lately. More importantly, their whole defense is nearly intact as they’ve been able to stay relatively healthy all season long.

Given the two week break to rest and heal up, Denver’s defense looks primed to help carry the Broncos through the playoffs.


This is the first time in a long while that the Broncos find themselves with a totally complete team.

On offense and defense, there aren’t too many weaknesses or chinks in their armor. For many teams in the playoffs, a perfect game will needed in order to take down the defending AFC champs.

This is the most dangerous team the Broncos have had in the past couple of years, maybe more. With the impending return of injured impact players like Brandon Marshall and T.J. Ward, the sky’s the limit for this team.

The Broncos are peaking at the right time and look ready to make their postseason run in roughly two weeks.