The Denver Broncos have looked a bit more like the dominant force that we saw to start the 2013 NFL season over the past two weeks after losing to the New England Patriots just three weeks ago. After the loss, their offense has combined to score 86 points in the past two weeks, which makes it pretty safe to say that they’re clicking.
However, there are valid worries about the offense coming into their matchup with the San Diego Chargers for Thursday Night Football. With Wes Welker out for the game and recovering from a concussion that he suffered this past week, the vaunted receiving core of the Broncos is obviously going to be a bit depleted.
While most people have focused on how Welker’s absence is going to potentially slow down Denver against the Chargers, that’s not exactly what I see happening. As the Broncos are facing only the 29th ranked passing defense in the league in San Diego, Welker’s absence doesn’t mean that the Broncos will be stifled as much as it means that there will be more work for their other weapons in the passing game.
In particular, Eric Decker should have ample opportunity to continue what’s been an impressive run as of late. From weeks 9-12, Decker didn’t have more than five receptions in a single game and topped 60 yards receiving just once while not finding the end-zone at all over that five-game span. In week 12, that loss to the Pats, he was a total non-factor as he caught just one of his four targets for only five yards.
However, Decker rebounded from that slump in week 13 by catching eight of his 12 targets for 174 yards and an incredible four touchdowns. He continued that by again catching eight of his 12 targets in week 14, this time for 117 yards and another score. He’s been huge for this team over the past two weeks and, with Welker out, should have the chance to be a prolific target once again.
Obviously the Broncos’ success on offense begins and ends with Peyton Manning being the dynamic and productive veteran that he’s been all year, but he wouldn’t be near as dangerous were it not for the weapons surrounding him in Denver. With Welker out, expect Denver to be a big factor behind Manning and the team’s success.