Broncos continue to lean on defense, run game in season-changing win over Bills

After a 1-5 start, the Broncos are now 4-5 and firmly in the AFC playoff hunt thanks to a strong defense and an improving run game.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

It has been over a month since the Denver Broncos last lost a game. After a 1-5 start to the year, fans and media alike have called for jobs and suggested the team hit a hard reset to contend in the future. Since that start, the Broncos have won three straight, including back-to-back wins against the Chiefs and Bills- two of the AFC's top teams of the last few years. The Monday night victory over Buffalo puts the Broncos at 4-5 and squarely in the hunt for the AFC playoffs.

It is hard to believe the Broncos are where they are after its historically bad September, but believe it or not, Denver is turning a corner. Much like the win over Kansas City in week eight, the 24-22 win over Buffalo in week ten feels like one of those games that can propel a team forward. Sean Payton has the team oozing with confidence, and that confidence only builds after each win.

There are a handful of on-field reasons the Broncos have started to win games recently, and the defense deserves the be at the top of the list. In its last four games, the Denver defense has allowed an average of just 16.7 points per game to a list of opponents that includes two well-regarded offenses in Kansas City (twice) and Buffalo. Earlier in the season, the Broncos made several changes to its defensive personnel, and so far, those changes have resulted in resounding success on the field.

Since cornerbacks Ja'Quan McMillian and Fabian Moreau were inserted into the starting lineup, the secondary has performed like one of the best units in the league. Against Buffalo, McMillian and Moreau secured two of Denver's four takeaways on the night. McMillian forced and recovered a fumble on the game's opening play, and Moreau grabbed an interception before halftime that helped the Broncos tack on more points. The changes made to the defense earlier this season have resulted in a more disruptive defense. Much of Denver's success this year has been predicated on the defense forcing turnovers, so expect this group to be leaned on heavily as the season progresses.

Offensively, the Broncos are still working some kinks out. Over the last three games, Denver has committed to the run game and enjoyed some mild success. Against the Bills, the Broncos totaled 122 rushing yards. Javonte Williams led the backfield with 21 carries for a solid 79 yards. With Williams now completely healthy, the Broncos have formed a run-heavy and conservative offensive identity. It is definitely Denver's best chance to win games as dropping back to pass still feels like a chore for the offense.

Russell Wilson made some fantastic plays in the win over Buffalo, but the inability to consistently read the field and make quick decisions has limited the passing game. The Broncos must continue to heavily utilize the run game and find ways to build upon it.

All told, this game could have gone either way. We could analyze the on-field schematics and spend all day breaking down why the Broncos have been able to come away with wins recently, but at the end of the day, this was a game where the football gods were on Denver's side. From inexplicable turnovers to the 12 men on the field penalty that let Denver retry the game-winning kick, the Bills made mistakes, and the ball bounced the Broncos way.


Regardless of how they come, a win is a win, and the Broncos are now riding on three straight. When the team was 1-5, I did not believe a turnaround was possible, but a one-eighty on the season is unfolding before our eyes. At 4-5 and with more tough games on the schedule, I still can not proclaim the Broncos as a legitimate playoff contender, but one thing is for sure; our beloved Broncos are back from the dead.

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