A week ago, we found the advanced metrics to say the 2012 Broncos were a far better team than their 1-2 record might have indicated.
After a brutal start to the schedule which featured the Steelers, Falcons, and Texans (the latter two remain undefeated), having the rebuilding Raiders into SAF@MH for a visit portended two things:
First, it was something of a breather, traditional rivalry notwithstanding. If everything were to play to form, the Broncos were due to finally whip their AFCW brethren at home.
Second, the strength of schedule figures were sure to take a hit this week. Indeed, they have.
But aside from the four-point halftime lead that should have been much greater (Demaryius Thomas's fumble being largely to blame), everything went according to plan on Sunday. The Broncos confirmed they're a quality team, and the Raiders proved they are very far from such a designation.
Denver remains the third-most efficient team in the NFL according to Brian Burke's rankings, just behind the second-ranked Falcons. Denver is still sixth in offensive efficiency, but slipped to fifth in defensive efficiency.
The Broncos are now above average in every category (see lower table on ANS) except in terms of intercepting the ball (hello, Mike Adams, again) and in penalty rate. However, that infraction figure is much improved; if you ask me, the return of the real referees factor largely there.
They're tied for tenth with the Cardinals in terms of pass defense, and third-best in rush defense success rate.
Both would appear to matter greatly this week against a Patriots team that posted 52 points on 580 yards of offense (247 rushing) in Buffalo on Sunday.
Presumably due to the Raiders dragging down their strength of schedule, the Broncos fell into a tie for seventh-best overall (with the Bears, at +8.1), according to PFR's Simple Rating System.
They're ranked eleventh in Offensive SRS (+3.6), and ninth in Defensive SRS (+4.5). In terms of Strength of Schedule, they're all the way down to seventh after sporting the toughest schedule through four weeks. That's the Raiders Effect.
Obviously, we don't need statistics to tell us that a victory in New England would be a mountainous achievement.
But according to Burke's data, Denver is currently fielding a far superior defense to the Patriots'; considering the location of the game, his probabilities will likely show a tossup here.
SRS favors the Patriots, ranking them second overall, behind the Texans.
In a week's time, we're sure to find Denver's SoS boosted, and a victory or closely-fought game will again confirm that the Broncos are a pretty good team. A blowout loss would likely send them reeling.