One of the greatest and most historical novels ever written in the history of literature is without question Charles Dickens‘ A Tale of Two Cities. The basic gist of the classic book is basic comparing and contrasting life between peasantry and aristocracy in two major cities, London and Paris leading up to and during the French Revolution.
This season in the NFL there is a similar situation occurring but the difference here is that the asymmetrical way of life is happening on just one team in the two separate halves of action.
That team is the Denver Broncos and their diverse styles of play and effectiveness on offense and defense during the first half and second half. I first noticed this obvious trend during their second game of the season when they lost 27-21 on Monday Night Football to the Atlanta Falcons. I didn’t make much of an issue about it, however, after their recent appearance on Monday’s prime time slot versus the San Diego Chargers I thought to myself, its time to break down some numbers and get the laptop out.
So far this season through the Broncos’ six games they have been outscored 98-42 during the first half of games while outscoring their opponents 128-40 in the second half; head coach John Fox must give one hell of a halftime speech, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Denver looker room to hear what he’s saying or yelling to his players.
You would think just looking at those numbers that maybe it’s just a matter of them competing harder and receiving more opportunities after the intermission, but it’s not that simple. How can both units both seemingly lull through the opening half of football for six weeks and then during the second half just flip a switch and kick it into fifth gear?
Just look at the fact that during the first half of Denver’s six games so far this season their offense has had 34 total drives, gained 1,106 yards scored four touchdowns, successfully made four field goals, accounted seven turnovers (4 interceptions and 3 fumbles recovered by their opponents) punted the ball away 14 times, turned the ball over on downs once and had four drives end at the half. Those are some pretty mediocre statistics and any team producing those types of numbers would probably be 1-5 or 2-4 at this point of the season and would probably end the season with a losing record and missing out on the postseason.
Then look at the Broncos offensive stats following the intermission which are 33 total drives with 1,192 yards gained, 14 trips to the end zone, three successful field goals, just two turnovers (both fumbles), nine punts and one turn over on downs (4 drives resulted in the end of the game including 3 kneel downs). How is this the same offense? This type of production looks like it could be one of the top teams in the league with a 4-2 or 5-1 record who are setting their sites on finishing the year 12-4 or 13-3 with their sites clearly set on the postseason.
It doesn’t end there however, the Denver defense maybe an even greater enigma allowing 1,188 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven field goals on 30 first half drives while just causing two turnovers (both interceptions) and forcing their opponents to punt 10 times.
However in the second half the same defense (or at least that’s what the player’s jerseys say) have allowed just 857 yards, six touchdowns and two field goals on 36 drives causing eight turnovers (3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 2 on downs) and forcing their opponents to punt the ball 17 times.
It’s simply amazing to think that the same players can come out week after week and produce this type of disparagingly opposite statistics no matter who they face and where they are playing. Take Peyton Manning for example , prime example as a matter of fact. Manning has passed for 853 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions while compiling a 85.2 quarterback rating during the first half but in the second half he has passed for 955 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions while compiling a 124.0 quarterback rating.
There honestly can’t be any logical explanation for any of this besides the fact that the Denver Broncos are two entirely different teams; a mediocre one during the first and second quarters and a Super Bowl contender in the third and fourth quarters. One thing is for sure if the Broncos continue to play this way their 3-3 record will transform into an 8-8 mark at the conclusion of the year which would be a great disappointment for a team that had high hopes at the beginning of the season.
During the Broncos bye week in week seven coach Fox, Manning, Von Miller and the rest of the team needs to all figure what they can do differently during the first half while not compromising their efforts in the second half in order to get them on the right track. If that can occur then the other 31 teams in the league need to beware.