The Broncos haven’t been gifted many primetime windows in the last eight seasons, and the way the Broncos have played in those eight years, can you blame the schedule makers for giving the primetime windows to other franchises?
It was more of the same on Thursday night primetime this week as the Broncos extended their winless run against the Kansas City Chiefs to 16 games, and counting, whilst also, slipping to 1-5 on the year and well and truly putting to bed any lingering hopes of a playoff berth for Sean Payton in his first year in Denver.
Over the first four weeks, there was a strong argument to be made that the Broncos could (and probably should) have been 4-1 over the opening quarter of the season. Losing in two one-score games at home in the opening two weeks and only losing by multiple scores last week against the Jets due to a turnover that became a score late in the game.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about this week’s loss in Arrowhead, so without further ado, here are my takeaways from the Broncos’ loss to the Chiefs.
Starting with the positives, the run game started the game well, Javonte Williams had a couple of bruising runs in the opening quarter which looked more like the Williams we’re used to seeing in Broncos Country.
The Broncos ran for 115 yards on the night and it was clear that Payton wanted to control the time of possession early in the game and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
It seems Payton has been managing the snaps of Williams in the opening six weeks of the year, which is sensible considering the injury he had and the way he plays, one does have to wonder how long Payton can keep limiting the snaps of one of the Broncos’ only playmakers on offence though.
Defence looked good
The defence held its own for the second week running and held this explosive offence to only one touchdown in the game which is incredible to say, especially when they’ve had 70 points scored against them in one game on the road already this year.
For the opening four weeks, the conversations in Broncos country have revolved around the offence keeping up their level of play and the defence giving them a chance to win games by holding opponents to a somewhat modest total of points.
In the subsequent two weeks, the conversation has flipped and now Broncos fans are looking for the offence to be competent at the very least and asking the defence to retain their level of performance.
Offence falters again
Speaking of the offence, for the second week in a row they’ve failed to show up in games that have well and truly been there for the taking.
Last week Russell Wilson had the ball in his hands with the chance to lead the offence down the field and take the lead late in the game, instead, Wilson fumbled the ball and the Jets ran it in to win the game.
This week the Broncos weren’t even close to the Chiefs despite them only reaching the endzone once.
They couldn’t move the ball and the wide receivers couldn’t get open at all for Wilson to find them and get the offence moving down the field.
One of the only bright spots in the Broncos pass game this year, Marvin Mims Jr., wasn’t even on the field after his error against the Jets last Sunday appears to have rubbed Payton up the wrong way.
Without Mims, the offence has no vertical explosiveness, and for a receiver room that is supposedly all on the trade block, they’ve done nothing but harm their trade stock in the last two weeks.
Roster moves are pending
As mentioned previously, it isn’t just the receivers who are up for sale, according to several reports, the entire roster besides superstar Patrick Surtain II is on the trade block for the Broncos.
Whether Payton wants to blow things up quite to that extent or not is up for discussion and it doesn’t seem like the fire sale will be quite that wholesale.
Nonetheless, besides a handful of promising young pieces on either side of the ball and a couple of highly paid new free-agent acquisitions it feels like the large majority of this roster would be eligible for trade if general manager George Paton picked up any calls in the coming weeks.
Some of the more highly spoken about players in trade rumours have been: Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, amongst others.
Most believe those are the four players that would garner any relevant haul for Paton and as a result, they are the ones most likely to be traded, especially as the Broncos are desperate for picks as they attempt to rebuild their roster.
Week seven preview
Looking ahead to next Sunday, the Broncos turn their attention to their game against the Green Bay Packers who are coming off of a bye in week six.
The Packers have had a mixed season with highs and lows before heading into an early-season bye. No one has encapsulated that more perhaps, than quarterback Jordan Love who took the reigns from Aaron Rodgers in the offseason.
Love’s play has been inconsistent and injuries on offence have led to some subpar play from the Packers which might bouy this resurgent Broncos defence across the last two weeks.
The defence is stacked with talent but play-caller, Joe Barry, is public enemy number one amongst cheeseheads and his play-calling has resulted in numerous losses already this season in games the Packers should have been winning.
Fortunately for the Broncos, they have had an extended week to prepare for this game and come back refreshed and, hopefully, rejuvenated ahead of Sunday.
They desperately need a win this week at home, before they lock horns once again with the Chiefs again in week eight, and then go on their bye in week nine.
If the Broncos don’t win on Sunday they could realistically be 1-7 coming off their bye with a brutal stretch to end the season later in the year, including road trips to Buffalo, Detroit and the Chargers as well as a home game against the Browns.
It’s not a must-win game for any playoff implications but it’s certainly a must-win game if Payton and Wilson want any credibility coming out of this disastrous start to their campaign in Denver.