As could be expected, all of the talk today is about how remarkable the Broncos' comeback was. But, how good are the Broncos overall?
How does tops in the league sound?
Yeah, that seems like a bit much to us, but the two teams that had been ahead of Denver in Brian Burke's efficiency rankings (San Francisco and Houston) both got waxed at home in Week 6, by a combined score of 68-27.
Whatever anyone wants to say about Norv Turner and Philip Rivers, and historically rare circumstances aside, the Broncos still went on the road and beat their primary division threat by eleven points.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver now sits in first-place tie with San Diego atop the AFCW, but they occupy the driver's seat by their lonesome.
Both teams are 3-3, but the Broncos for now have an advantage head-to-head and in division record, and a reasonable chance at going 6-0 within the division.
Denver and San Diego enter their bye weeks on different trajectories, and the Broncos will host New Orleans and head to Cincinnati and Carolina, before hosting the Chargers in Week 11. In the interim, San Diego will visit Cleveland, host Kansas City, and head to Tampa Bay.
As devastating as last night was for the Chargers, it's not that hard to imagine them arriving in Denver with another edge in the standings.
But until then, we have an historic comeback in which to delight.
They say practice makes perfect.
The person who coined that phrase probably wasn't talking about trying to overcome 20+ point deficits, but they obviously had someone like Peyton Manning in mind when they did.
After having fallen short while trying to dig out of 20-point holes against Atlanta and Houston, and a 24-point canyon in New England, the Broncos stormed back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to stun the host Chargers 35-24 (Gamebook, ANS box score).
And on a night where John Fox told the KOA guys that Denver had practiced taking the ball away more than any team he's ever coached, the Denver defense ended six of the last eight San Diego possessions by turning Philip Rivers over.
Norv [norv] noun, verb, Norved, Norving
1. Proper name, short for Norval, popularized by parents in the 20th century who wanted their kids to be bullied at school.
2. To cause to lose a football game in the fourth quarter.
3. To reverse fortune, especially during the act of playing American football.
San Diego, you just got Norved! And you witnessed the greatest comeback victory in Monday Night Football history.
Norv Turner wasn't really responsible for today's Broncos carnival (turnovers and big plays were good enough), but that was fun as hell to write.
Now, let's break this thing down in thirty little ways:
Happy Football Monday, friends. For the first time ever, in five seasons of writing about football, I have two posts in the same calendar day. I’ve come a long way from writing one 8,000-word ST&NO every week. Today, briefly, I want to cover a few things that I think will be important in tonight’s game.
1. Sam Monson of PFF wrote a good article for ESPN Insider today that talked about Philip Rivers’s struggles against pressure this season. Per Monson:
Since the start of the 2011 season, though, his completion percentage has dropped to 45.3 percent and he has thrown almost twice the number of interceptions (nine) to touchdowns (five). His throws under pressure have also been graded negatively overall by Pro Football Focus for the first seasons since we started grading (2008).
The Broncos have some horses in the pass rush game, and the Chargers are looking like they’re going to be personnel-challenged at OT tonight. Jared Gaither really solidified the left side for San Diego last season, but he’s expected to miss the game. Jeromey Clary is pretty terrible on the right side.
On Friday, I wrote that the Patriots' alleged "blueprint" for beating the Broncos was really a blueprint for beating any defense in the NFL. I didn't think it all the way through, though, and an important point was left out.
The one-word fast running game only works when it's quiet enough for Tom Brady to call out that one word. At Seattle yesterday, the Patriots couldn't play as fast, because Brady had no ability to communicate the play as quickly as he could at home.
CenturyLink Field is the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL, and Brady may have an easier time in stadiums with less noise. But for the moment, I'm going to say that the one-word run game is only something New England can consistently rely upon at home.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver (2-3) has an opportunity to tie San Diego (3-2) for first-place in the AFCW tonight; if not, they'll maintain a dubious pace just ahead of the one-win Raiders and Chiefs.
Oakland (1-4) nearly pulled off a shocker in Atlanta, where the Falcons needed a last-second 55-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to escape with a 23-20 win and remain unbeaten. 17 points were scored in a wild final three minutes, with Asante Samuel returning an interception of Carson Palmer 79 yards for a score, Darren McFadden scoring with 40 seconds left, and Bryant capping yet another late game-winning drive by Matt Ryan, who had been picked off by Dennis Allen's boys three times in the first half.
Kansas City (1-5) got demolished in Tampa Bay 38-10 as the Brady Quinn-led Chiefs got outgained by 202 yards, and Quinn threw two interceptions (including a pick-six by Ronde Barber) in his first start since 2009. The Chiefs are denying that embattled GM Scott Pioli has been offered a two-year extension, as was reported by CBS's Jason La Canfora earlier in the day. But Jason Whitlock believes management only issued that denial because the team had just been pasted again on the field, and he says the recent Matt Cassel/booing fans/Eric Winston drama is just proof that the NFL and its players have no respect for their own fans.
Porter has an illness, the Broncos announced, and he didn’t make the team flight to San Diego for Monday’s game. He had practiced all week.
Chris Harris will move from nickelback to starting RCB opposite Champ Bailey, and Tony Carter is expected to replace Harris as the nickelback. When the Broncos go to a six-DB package, they’ll use rookie CB Omar Bolden or one of their backup safeties—Jim Leonhard or David Bruton—depending on the situation.
I've maintained Chris Harris has the ability to start in the NFL. Tomorrow night, he'll get his first chance to prove it. The good news for the Broncos? The Chargers do not have anyone on their roster named Wes Welker.
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has been under intense scrutiny from fans and local media, but has been staunchly supported by owner Clark Hunt, who despite the turmoil recently offered Pioli a two-year extension, according to a league source.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have Bill Belichick thrust upon them.
Our advice to Scott Pioli: sign the extension. The less strenuous the division is for the Broncos, the better.