What is it that the Denver Broncos have learned after the first three weeks of this young NFL season? Quite simply, that they can play with anyone in the league. Even with starting the year at 1-2, this team has a direction and hope for the road ahead.
Of course Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense needs to capitalize on opportunities. The receivers definitely have to run better routes, then catch the ball before trying to run. Without a doubt the defensive line and linebackers need to find the pass rush and continue to stop the run. Ultimately the secondary has to be able to prevent the big play down the field.
But the one thing that the Broncos have shown so far is the fact that they were able to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, last year’s number one defense. They were also able to come from behind and only lose by a combined 12 points to arguable two of the top three teams in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. Go ahead and name any other team so far who has opened their schedule with tougher opponents. Realize that yes, the Broncos looked listless in all three first halves until their rhythm began. But also realize that they were still only one or two plays away from being 3-0. Maybe it is just a fact that while the Broncos remain a work in progress, the first three opponents have been together for a couple years and are just that good.
So, I understand that my grades may be a bit harsh on some areas of the team. I get the fact that Peyton Manning can not continue to take the hits he has been experiencing and play from behind every game. But I will say this. The Denver Broncos will make the playoffs this year in what seems to be another weak division. Their first half schedule is absolutely brutal and if they make it to the bye week healthy, then their run will begin there. I assure you of that. So far the Steelers, Falcons and Texans are behind them now. The road ahead? Just as brutal.
The Broncos play host again this weekend to the Oakland Raiders. Then they go on the road to visit the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargersbefore the bye week. After week 7, we will all see a different team than what we are witnessing now. So as we decipher every play and break down every missed assignment, it is also good to remember that this is a new team that needs an identity on both sides of the ball. One thing the Broncos have learned, is that you should never count out a Manning-led offense in the fourth quarter.
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