STDL: Broncos cruising to division title, potential first-round bye

For the sixth week in a row, and riding a streak of five games during which they've scored at least 30 points and won by at least a touchdown in each, the Broncos reside at the crest of Brian Burke's efficiency rankings.

But the Denver offense has scuffled a bit in recent weeks, and this is reflected in their fall to third (from first) in offensive efficiency. However, they remain first in passing efficiency and tied for sixth while running the ball. Of course, the injury to Willis McGahee may strain that latter figure.

Their continued dominance on the defensive side of the game has the Broncos still second in efficiency (fourth versus the pass, eighth (tied) against the run), behind the opportunistic Bears.

All of Denver's remaining opponents rank 16th or worse according to Burke.

Pro Football Reference

PFR's Simple Rating System still ranks Denver third overall, behind San Francisco and New England.

The Broncos are second in Offensive SRS, seventh in Defensive SRS, and their Strength of Schedule is tied for 11th-hardest.

SRS continues to say the Ravens (10th) and Bucs (11th) loom as strong future opponents, while calling the Browns (25th), Raiders (31st), and Chiefs (32nd) the bottom-dwellers they are.

Pro Football Focus

Denver's incomplete win over San Diego dropped them from first to second according to PFF's grading, with San Francisco having retaken the top spot in which they had been a fixture until last week.

PFF grades the Broncos as third on offense, first on defense, and second on special teams.

Tampa Bay (7th), Baltimore (14th), KC (21st), Cleveland (23rd), and Oakland (27th) all grade out better than the advanced metrics indicate.

Outlook

The chances that Denver will lose its grasp of the AFCW title are now below 1%, and they stood a 67% chance of nabbing a first-round bye, although that figure does not account for Houston's Thanksgiving victory.

As for Sunday's trip to Arrowhead, Burke's probabilities called the Broncos the only real heavy favorite for the week, Pats/LOLJets inclusive. The Chiefs rank 31st in Burke's efficiency rankings, dead-last according to SRS, and a more respectable 21st as graded by PFF.

The betting public makes the Broncos only a 10.5-point favorite, which would make it appear the gamblers are too focused on Denver's history in Kansas City, and giving too much weight to the threat of a division rival.

Reality is that these teams and franchises are currently occupying opposite ends of the quality spectrum, and we expect Sunday's game to bear a resemblance to the 2009 visit to KC than last year's snoozefest.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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