It looked like the Broncos were heading in the right direction. They had won two straight road games, the offense was starting to roll again and the rushing defense was coming along.
But after Sunday’s 31-10 loss to the Raiders, I still have no idea what to expect from the Broncos, except a little bit of everything…good, bad and yes, even ugly.
Unfortunately, the bad and the ugly took center stage on Sunday. The Raiders offense generated three consecutive second half touchdowns after the Broncos had tied the game at 10. Remember, the Raiders are a team that had trouble generating anything on offense the four games prior to Sunday.
Oakland controlled the ball for 32:04 and outrushed Denver 158-115. The Raiders forced two turnovers, the Broncos none. After a fumble inside the Raiders’ five yard line on their opening possession, the Broncos could never get into a rhythm.
It was a startling departure from the two solid road wins against Cleveland and Atlanta. And it was impossible to figure out. How could they play so well in so many ways for a couple of games and then just fall apart?
You can’t say it was injuries. For the most part, the same players missed the game against the Raiders and the ones against the Browns and Falcons.
It is easy, and correct, to point to turnovers. The Broncos’ early fumble set the tone on Sunday. While a team should be able to overcome that, they didn’t. The Broncos were poised to strike early against a bad team but gave the opportunity away. In the process, they gave the Raiders life.
But turnovers didn’t tell the entire story. The offense looked bewildered against a solid, but not fantastic, Oakland defense. We have seen the Broncos play well against better units.
Raiders’ running back Justin Fargas, banged up much of the season, rushed for 107 yards on 24 carries, a healthy 4.6 yards per attempt. And while JaMarcus Russell is a good athlete, how can one explain his completing 10-of-11 passes for 152 yards? It was by no means a breakout performance but it was more than effective.
Just who is this masked team called the Broncos? They have the ability to play well; they have shown that. They also have the ability to play poorly; they have shown that, too.
They have talent. And they have inexperience. They have made big plays. And they have made maddening decisions. They have won six games. They have lost five.
They are at once promising and frustrating, a team of ability and inconsistency. While they lead the AFC West, they are hardly playing like a team deserving such a position.
Yet they soldier on in the bottom line world of the NFL, two games ahead of the Chargers and backing their way to what could be an AFC West title.
Sometimes you just can’t figure it out.
What do you think the final five games of the season hold for the Broncos? Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts.