The Denver Broncos will close the 2023 regular season on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders and there will be a few things to watch for in this game, even if the playoffs are officially out of reach for both teams.
For starters, the Broncos will be looking to beat the Raiders for the first time since December 29, 2019. The Raiders have won the last seven games between the teams.
If the Broncos could secure the victory, it would have them finishing the season at 9-8, giving the team its first winning season since 2016 when they went 9-7. Though they still missed the playoffs that year, it was the last time the team finished a season above .500.
Both of those streaks ending would add to the fact that the team ended its ridiculously long losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs, making for a fairly successful first season for head coach Sean Payton.
But in addition to that, the team has two players who could break some records that have stood for decades.
Wil Lutz could break one of Jason Elam's records
This offseason, Payton chose to move on from long-time kicker Brandon McManus and bring in one of his former New Orleans Saints kickers, Wil Lutz.
Though it was a move that saved the Broncos $2 million, it was met with some skepticism. McManus had been around for awhile and had been quite successful with the team. The move looked really bad initially, as Lutz missed an extra point and a field goal in the season opener against the Raiders.
But Lutz has really turned things around and now for the season, he has made 30 of his 34 field-goal attempts this season and has been one of the better kickers in the league.
Those 30 field goals are just one less than the all-time team record of 31, which was set by Jason Elam in 1995 and then matched in 2001.
Elam is easily the best kicker in franchise history and the team's all-time leading scorer. Putting his name ahead of Elam in the Broncos' record book would cap off a tremendously successful season for Lutz.
Alex Singleton is a tackling machine
Now in his second season with the Broncos, Alex Singleton has made himself into one of the best pure tacklers in the entire NFL. Last season, he had 163 tackles. This season, he has even more.
Currently, only three players (Zaire Franklin, Bobby Wagner and Foyesade Oluokun) have more tackles this season that Singleton, putting him at fourth in the league. He has 164 tackles on the season with one game to play.
That puts Singleton in a position to break the Broncos' all-time record for tackles in a season, which is 170 set by Michael Brooks back in 1992. Singleton, who is averaging 10.2 tackles per game this season, needs seven to pass Brooks.
With the way Singleton seems to end up being a part of nearly every play on defense, one would think that he gets his hands on this record, which has stood in Denver for over 30 years. Of course, both Lutz and Singleton would have needed an extra game to break these records (the NFL only played 16 regular season games until 2022) so both of these marks would have a bit of an asterisk next to them.