The Denver Broncos' current 16-game losing streak to the Chiefs has been one of the hardest pills for Denver fans to swallow over the last several NFL seasons. To make matters worse, the Chiefs have evolved into the NFL's next great dynasty while the Broncos have fallen into the league's basement. With all the struggles the Broncos have been facing, talks of a rebuild have been at the forefront of the franchise, but if Denver miraculously breaks the streak on Sunday, plenty of voices will be changing their tunes.
The Broncos are probably not going to win on Sunday. Denver has kept it close in the last several matchups, but the Chiefs always find a way to win- it's what good teams do. A loss would be borderline inconsequential, but if Denver does manage to pull off an upset, the team may be seen in an entirely different light.
To set the record straight, if the Broncos do come away with a win, I as well as every other fan will be elated, but it would not change my big-picture perspective on the team. Win or lose, the Broncos will still be in serious need of a dramatic roster restructure. Still, a hypothetical win against the Chiefs in week eight is worth looking at through the other lens.
Beating the Chiefs would be Denver's best quality win over the last several seasons by a mile. It would also put Denver at 3-5 heading into its week nine bye, a not-so-bad position considering how the season started and all of the discourse surrounding the team. The Broncos' defense which was one of the worst units of all time through the first four weeks of the season has been steadily improving, and the offense has seen drastic improvement up front and in the running game. It is not hard to see how these factors combined with a win over the defending champions could change a lot of perspectives on the 2023 Broncos.
There have been plenty of murmurs about the Broncos taking calls and hearing trade offers for almost everyone on the roster. An upset win over the Chiefs could potentially slow down some of the trade talks if Sean Payton and George Paton feel like the roster has improved enough. It could also speed up trade talks, and serve as a stock raiser for some players. Either way, the Broncos are likely to make some moves, but the results on Sunday could play a role in what kind of moves they decide to make.
Mid-season turnarounds are not impossible, we have seen them plenty of times before. I have explained previously why I do not think the Broncos can match last year's Jaguars and Lions teams, both of which did a one-eighty after disastrous starts. However unlikely, the possibility still remains for the Broncos to be a competitive football team. If they get to 3-5, and that is a massive "if", Denver will have momentum, confidence, and a week-long break before playing a Bills team that has had plenty of struggles in the early portion of the year. A pathway to a turnaround is certainly there, even if it's extremely narrow.
To re-iterate, a win over the Chiefs will not change my larger-scale view of the Broncos. Victory would obviously be welcome, but the fact of the matter is that the Broncos are just not that good, even if they pull off this upset, they will likely regress to the mean in the following weeks. Looking at hypotheticals in a results-based league can be foolish, but I do think looking at this hypothetical can illustrate the razor-thin line between success and failure in the NFL. The results of a game decided by points, that were decided by inches, that were decided by the flip of a coin can drastically change a franchise's decision-making.