Watching the film of Denver Broncos games from the previous weekend is not always a pleasant experience but as a featured writer at Predominantly Orange, I owe it to readers of this illustrious site to tell the truth. If I tell the truth and have good takes, people will keep coming back and Fansided will be greatly blessed by my efforts.
In any event, I’m convinced that the second half is where Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio and his assistants made mincemeat out of Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and his staff.
Perhaps the Broncos rested on their laurels too much after leading 12-0 and holding Oakland’s offense to -14 yards in the first half (and only 126 yards on the game) but the Raiders came out with more aggression for the latter 30 minutes of the match-up and made game-changing plays when the Broncos came up empty.
Twitter is both the best and worst thing in the world and sadly, Sunday saw it bring out its ugly qualities far too often with many Broncos fans calling out quarterback Brock Osweiler for being terrible and other such unfounded vitriol, including the offensive line being completely horrendous. Incidentally, Osweiler was 35 of 51 for 308 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions to his credit.
In any event, I provide a rational take here. Against the Raiders, the Broncos’ offensive line underachieved, completely hamstringing a running attack that has rushed for 129.9 yards per game since Osweiler took the reins as quarterback against the Chicago Bears November 22 (this also includes the paltry 34-yard rushing performance against Oakland Sunday).
In fact, before the struggles against the Raiders, the Broncos had out-rushed their opponents 161.0-76.2 in wins against the Bears, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers. Thus, my theory is, the offensive line is not terrible but against the Raiders, they had a terrible day.
As Denver sportscaster Vic Lombardi tweeted early Monday morning, the NFL is a week-to-week league and while the Broncos squandered a 12-0 lead to the Raiders, this is also the same team that overcame a late 14-point deficit to down the Patriots.
The Broncos will likely determine their ultimate postseason position the next two weeks as they play foes from the AFC North, first traveling to Pittsburgh to meet the Steelers and then hosting the Cincinnati Bengals, fellow aspirants for a first-round bye, December 28.
The Broncos’ defense, as always, butters the bread and as Week 14 draws to a close, it is #1 in scoring defense (17.3), net yardage defense allowed (272.5) and passing defense (188.2) and #3 in rushing defense (84.3).
Therefore, if the offensive line is able to control the line of scrimmage as it did against Chicago, New England and San Diego and run the ball effectively while also preventing Pittsburgh from getting sacks and pressures on Osweiler, the Broncos should be victorious against the explosive Steelers (#2 in total offense, 404.8 yards per game, #5 in passing, 284.8 yards per game, #5 in scoring, 26.5 points per game).
Now, at Monday’s presser, Kubiak has not officially determined who the starting quarterback will be as Peyton Manning will be practicing this week and Kubiak said he will take it “one day at a time” concerning his progression.
Ultimately (inserting my opinion here) I believe Kubiak will go with Osweiler as a cold Manning may not be up to speed especially since he has never really meshed with the Kubiak methodology when he has played this season.
In any event, this is the playoff push and the Broncos still can be in play for the #2 seed if nothing else and the Patriots, who have road divisional games against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins remaining, may falter yet. If the Broncos and Patriots finish with identical records, remember that the Broncos own the first tiebreaker, winning head-to-head so that is one advantage they have should New England stumble.