Sunday proved to be a propitious day for the Denver Broncos on many levels as not only did they vanquish the San Diego Chargers 17-3 at their unofficial home away from home Sunday, San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, they received an assist from the Philadelphia Eagles.
When the 5-7 Eagles upset the New England Patriots 35-28 at Gillette Stadium, this gave the Broncos an early Christmas present that could be the key to a potential Super Bowl run.
Because the Eagles downed the Patriots and left them even in the loss column with Denver, if the Broncos win out they will have the #1 seed in the AFC which includes home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as November 29, the Broncos downed the Patriots 30-24 in overtime at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
One would think that the Broncos have earned this right already by virtue of a 10-2 record which has included seven road games already on the season and it has been an elite defense that has done the majority of the heavy lifting.
The defense is second in points allowed per game at 17.5 (only fellow AFC contender Cincinnati is better at 16.3 points), first in yards given up per game (284.7) and passing yard per game (195.6) as well as fifth against the run (89.1 yards) per contest.
Thus, the Broncos have a defense that travels with them even when signal-caller Brock Osweiler doesn’t put up big numbers and the running game works well enough for head coach Gary Kubiak’s purposes.
The 17-3 win at San Diego was, I must confess, not the most fascinating game when I watched it live or even on DVR Monday morning. Nevertheless, it was the type of game that the Broncos may likely be forced to play in the postseason which is not that far away, as we enter the final quarter of a 16-game season this upcoming weekend.
Still, there are two components of the victory at San Diego that significantly stood out to me wherein the Broncos excelled against the Chargers: running the football and sacking the opposing quarterback.
Against San Diego, the Broncos were +41 on the ground (134 rushing yards to only 93 given up) while they had 4 sacks to the Chargers’ 1.
These were two of the metrics wherein the Broncos asserted their dominance over San Diego and as Osweiler gets more acclimated to the Kubiak offense, he will have good games more often than mediocre ones although with the Broncos still having offensive line struggles, he may have a hard time getting things going.
In any event, Osweiler has done all that has been asked of him and perhaps even more in winning his first three starts and with this defense, the sky is the limit in 2015.