The Broncos might end the season 3-13, but even if that possibility becomes a reality, Sean Payton has laid a foundation for any future Broncos team to build on, he beat the Chiefs.
So let’s get into my takeaways from this huge win against Kansas City, and look beyond the bye week for what this win might mean for the last nine weeks of the season.
16 game losing streak snapped
This wasn’t just any Chiefs team, this was an unstoppable force against the AFC West, and specifically the AFC West on the road.
Before Sunday, the Chiefs had won 16-straight against the Broncos dating back to 2015, 13-straight against the AFC West and 6-straight this season.
Mahomes, on his own, had 29 straight games with a passing touchdown, 16 straight road wins against the AFC West and 12 straight wins against the Broncos.
All of those streaks are finished and although the teams have still endured differing seasons up to this point the magnitude of this win cannot be understated for the Broncos moving forward.
Defence came up huge
Focusing on the game specifically, the defence played their best game of the season on Sunday, recording four takeaways and not allowing a single touchdown.
In my takeaways from the week six loss, two weeks ago, I highlighted the importance of only restricting this offence to one touchdown on the night.
Fast forward two weeks, I couldn’t have ever envisioned holding this team to no touchdowns, single-digit points and a second-half shutout.
This wasn’t just a win, this was a convincing, brutal, mauling and the defence led the way in how they played.
Nik Bonitto, Jonathan Cooper, Zach Allen and Baron Browning were huge on the front seven which has been rightfully criticised this year.
The secondary has been reworked since the 70-point game in Miami and on Sunday they made some major plays even in Kareem Jackson’s absence.
To go from allowing 70 points in a game to holding a top-five offence in the league to only nine points and no touchdowns deserves endless plaudits and Vance Joseph has to be given his flowers.
Culture and system finally sinking in
Sean Payton’s arrival at the Broncos signalled a change of culture was coming at Mile High.
For too long since Gary Kubiak’s departure, the Broncos have lacked a culture and Payton finally looks like he’s starting to deliver one.
It also appears that the systematic changes which came with such a widespread change in the coaching staff this offseason are finally clicking with the players.
Both offensively and defensively they look better at executing plays and more efficient with time calling, penalties are also down considerably.
Perhaps trusting the process will pay off in the medium to long term, who’d have thought?
Not sellers at the deadline
A huge talking point in the last few weeks leading up to yesterday’s trade deadline was whether the Broncos were going to be having a fire sale or not.
The deadline has passed and no Broncos were moved so I guess we know the answer.
It’s refreshing to see the Broncos stick at the deadline and not move any pieces, which they have done in recent years most notably with Bradley Chubb last year and Von Miller the season before.
With a culture building and a 3-2 record in their last five games, heading into a bye week, with winnable games down the stretch it feels sensible to keep this group and hope to lay the foundations of something heading into 2024.
Offence still inconsistent
Putting up 24 points against the Chiefs’ defence is no mean feat and this defence hadn’t given up more than 21 points in a game so far this season.
Kudos to the offence for that and Russell Wilson looked good on a lot of drives on Sunday, however, inconsistencies are still rife in this offence.
This game could (and should) have been put away much more convincingly than just a 24-9 margin.
In certain spots, Wilson held onto the ball for too long and took a crucial sack because of it resulting in losing valuable yardage.
Of course, there is an argument to be had that it was more so the Chiefs’ defence being good than the Broncos’ offence being poor, in games against lesser defences this season we have also seen similar issues arise.
Run game was immense
On a final positive note on the offence, they were tremendous on Sunday in the run game.
Javonte Williams scored his first touchdown of the year and totalled 98 yards in the game.
If the Broncos can build a consistent run game that they can lean on it will be a massive pillar for this offence to possess.
Look ahead at the bye-week
Usually, in this spot we’d discuss the upcoming opponents, however, the Broncos have the virtue of now being on their bye in week nine.
The bye has come at a good time after the trade deadline to settle everyone into the system heading into the final nine weeks of the season.
Payton can continue to build his culture and everyone on the roster knows for certain they will be a Bronco for at least the next nine weeks of their careers.
It may slightly stunt the momentum they’ve picked up from the two wins in previous weeks but on the contrary, they can consolidate the positives from those games and pay more attention to the flaws in their performances in recent weeks.
Not to mention they don’t play until Monday Night Football in week 10 giving them even more time to prepare for going into Buffalo to face Josh Allen and the Bills in two weeks.