It's almost unbelievable to think that the Denver Broncos lost the Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders, and New York Jets within the first five weeks of the 2023 NFL Season. Yes, I understand that there's a ton more nuance to this and that the NFL is filled with parity. Each and every week, there's some type of upset, and you could argue that the Broncos have upset teams in three straight weeks.
Anyway, the team is now 5-5 with a very realistic shot to hit the 6-5 mark, which could put them into the playoff picture. It's pretty amazing that the Broncos have dug themselves out of a 1-5 hole, which, if history tells us anything, is an early death sentence for teams. Sean Payton's coaching is clearly beginning to rub off on this team, which bodes well for their chances late in the season.
But it's becoming more and more clear that if the Denver Broncos do end up missing the playoffs by a game or two, three of their losses will be the ones that they look back on the most. In Week 1, they lost by one point to the Las Vegas Raiders, who have since fired Josh McDaniels, their GM Dave Ziegler, and benched QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Raiders are bad, and there's no other way to frame it. In Week 2, the Broncos took another brutal loss, this time to the Washington Commanders, who, after their Thanksgiving Day loss the Dallas Cowboys, fired their DC and DBs coach. The Commanders, since beating the Broncos in Week 2, have gone 2-8 since then.
And perhaps the most gut-wrenching of all, the Broncos took a loss to the New York Jets in Week 5, a game that had huge implications stemming from Sean Payton's USA Today interview. This was very clearly the Jets' Super Bowl, and Denver did have a lead for most of the game. It was a brutal, brutal loss that dropped the Broncos to 1-4 on the season.
Looking at just how much worse each team has gotten in recent weeks, and how much better the Broncos are, it's just brutal that the team lost these games. The Jets have been especially bad, as their 31 points against the Broncos is their highest output of the season, and they've hit the 20-point mark just four times.
This is where the Broncos will have to make up another win or two. Games that looked like losses when the season began could be a start. The team beating the Chiefs and Bills in back to back weeks surely helps. And with the way the season has gone, games like Week 12 versus the Cleveland Browns, at least one win versus the Los Angeles Chargers, Week 16 versus the New England Patriots, and Week 8 versus the Raiders all now look like games the Broncos will be favored in and should win.
Denver may have to go at least 1-2 during their three-game stretch in Weeks 13-15. Each game is away. Denver is going to have to at least beat the Chargers here, but I think dropping all three would end their season. Anyway, the Denver Broncos are in a solid position to save their season and perhaps clinch a playoff spot, but three of their five losses continue to loom large.