It finally happened. After suffering 16 straight losses to the Kansas City Chiefs going back to 2015, the Denver Broncos have defeated its bitter rival and rejuvenated the franchise and its fans. The 24-9 win over the Chiefs is by far the biggest win the team has earned over the last several seasons, and arguably its most important victory since the end of the Peyton Manning era.
This win serves as a form of catharsis for the players in the locker room who have endured countless losses to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Players like Garett Bolles, Justin Simmons, and Courtland Sutton can finally say they were on a team that beat the Chiefs. To the media and in public, the players and coaches may downplay the importance of breaking the streak, but this game meant absolutely everything to the team.
The Broncos are now 3-5 on the year. They have a bye week coming up and then a game against a struggling Bills team. I've previously written about how a mid-season turnaround for Denver is not very likely, but after handily beating the defending champions, the pathway to success has become a lot more clear.
After a 1-5 start and seven previous seasons of subpar performances, some fans- like myself- are still not entirely sold on the idea of Denver engineering a turnaround and making a push for the postseason, but it is hard not to be excited. In the last few games, the Broncos have vastly improved in some crucial areas.
The defense that got off to a historically bad start to the season has not only improved but performed like one of the top units in the NFL over the last three weeks. Adding players like Jaquan McMillian and P.J. Locke into the lineup, and getting players like edge rusher Baron Browning back from injury have filled some of the glaring holes on that side of the ball. The unit is playing well, and the much-maligned defensive coordinator Vance Joseph deserves his flowers for shoring up the defense so quickly.
Offensively, the Broncos have found an identity; run the ball. Denver put up 153 rushing yards against the Chiefs, and running back Javonte Williams led the way with 27 carriers for 85 yards. The offense is by no means perfect and is still prone to making head-scratching plays and mistakes, but they are coming together and figuring out how to play to its strengths. Javonte Williams seems to be fully healthy now, it will be exciting to see how the offense can further progress with Williams at full strength.
Obviously, this was no ordinary win. The Broncos exorcised its Kansas City demons with a dominant victory. The team is performing much better than they were at the beginning of the year, and the confidence is starting to show on the field. Again, I've written previously about why I do not think the Broncos will be able to turn the tides and push for the playoffs, but a win of this magnitude is certainly one that can galvanize a team. A one-eighty on the season is not out of the question.
The Broncos are playing with more focus and more confidence than ever, and fans are excited again. Sean Payton is beginning to truly leave his mark on the team, and players are buying in. No matter what happens through the rest of the year, the future in Denver is looking brighter than it ever has. It goes to show that in the NFL and any sport, winning really does cure all.