Are the Denver Broncos Now the Favorite in the AFC West?
On Monday Night Football the Denver Broncos finally pulled off one of their many attempted comebacks this season and it was a historic one.
It tied the largest comeback victory of any team in a victory in NFL history and it was the biggest comeback victory ever on MNF. What is probably the sweetest thing about their historic win is that it came against their bitter division rival San Diego Chargers. With the win the Broncos have now moved into a first-place tie at 3-3 with the Chargers but now hold the first tiebreaker with their head-to-head win.
Once the Broncos landed QB Peyton Manning in the off-season many experts believed that Denver was the odds on favorite to win the AFC West. Due to a tough early season schedule, paired with an easy schedule for San Diego, people began to change their minds and think that the Chargers are the better team.
Well, no more.
Say what you want about the Broncos falling behind 24-0 at halftime, they still won the game. Yes they have a lot of things to clean up and they can’t shoot themselves in the foot like they did (3 turnovers in the first half, INT TD) and expect this big of a comeback every week. However, they showed tremendous fortitude in a familiar situation and they were finally able to fully pull off a huge comeback.
If you go back and watch the game it’s easy to see that Denver was the better team in the second half and had all of the momentum. What isn’t as plain to see is that even despite the three turnovers the Broncos were the better team the entire game. How is that possible since they were down 24-0?
Falling behind 24-0 was a product of mental mistakes and poor special teams play. Those turnovers led to great field position for San Diego and it put Denver’s defense in a tough bind early. The score could have been much worse but the Broncos’ D held their ground when they needed to and limited the damage after the turnovers. San Diego really only had one good offensive drive in the first half that wasn’t helped by a Denver mistake and that was something that had to have been said in Denver’s locker room at halftime.
As for the second half, everyone saw what happened. The Broncos seized the momentum right from the get go and never looked back. Their defense came up big and forced FIVE Philip Rivers turnovers, two that were returned for TDs as Denver played their best half all season.
After their monumental comeback Denver has to be the favorite to win the division now and looking at their remaining schedule it’s tough to see them stumbling at all. There’s two reasons why I see this happening.
One, Denver’s second toughest NFL schedule lightens considerably after their bye (vs. New Orleans, at Cincinnati, at Carolina) and now any deficit they face the rest of this season will not seem insurmountable after their 24-point comeback.
There was a recognizable power shift in the division Monday night and if the Broncos do win the AFC West they’ll look back at this game as the main reason why.
Sure there’s a lot of games still to play but you have to like Denver’s chances to win their second straight division title.