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Already different from preceding editions, 2015 Denver Broncos primed to chart own course

Ken Pomponio Avatar
January 9, 2016


The Denver Broncos are making their fifth straight post-season appearance, but this is anything but the same old Orange and Blue Crew.

Let’s start with a quick statistical overview of the last five Denver seasons:

  • 2011 (8-8, AFC No. 4 seed) – 309 points scored (25th in the league), 390 points allowed (20th)
  • 2012 (13-3, No. 1 seed) – 481 points (second), 289 points allowed (fourth)
  • 2013 (13-3, No. 1 seed) – 606 points (first), 399 points allowed (22nd)
  • 2014 (12-4, No. 2 seed) – 482 points (second), 354 points allowed (16th)
  • 2015 (12-4, No. 1 seed) – 355 points (19th), 296 points allowed (fourth)

So, the 2015 Broncos had the second-best scoring defense of the five teams but possess the fourth-worst offense of the bunch.

It’s interesting to note that this season’s scoring average (22.2 per game) was basically as close to the 2011 average of 19.3 under Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton as it was to any of the three previous Peyton Manning-led teams but that’s where the similarities end.

Going in chronological order, Gary Kubiak’s inaugural Broncos’ squad has won more than its share of tight games, much like the John Fox’s first Denver team in 2011, but the current edition is much better and more playoff-experienced on both sides of the ball. Next.

In Manning’s debut season of 2012, the Broncos won their final 10 regular-season games to overcome a 2-3 start and snare the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the first time in 14 seasons, but all that wound up working against them in a way when they got caught up in a rare back-and-forth duel with the more seasoned Ravens in the divisional playoffs and were ousted 38-35 in double-overtime.

This year’s team may not possess the well-balanced talent of 2012’s contingent, but it is certainly more battle-tested and more experienced, having gone 9-3 in games decided by seven points or fewer, including three wins in overtime.

In 2013, of course, the Orange and Blue wound up setting a slew of league offensive records – highlighted by the record 606 points – but in the end, it turned out to be little more than a one-man show with the Broncos battered and bruised on defense and Manning and Co. woefully unable to keep up or compete with the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

The 2014 Broncos started fast at 6-1 – much like the 7-0 bunch of the current season – but they wound up losing four of their final six games, including the immensely disappointing 24-13 divisional-round loss to a Colts team which wound up getting pounded 45-7 by the Patriots in the AFC title game. In the bitter end, that Broncos team proved to be unmotivated, divided and distracted, with the coaching staff basically having their bags packed before the kickoff of the Indy game and a number of players seeming to say ‘why bother?’

That, of course, led to the infamous “kicking-and-screaming” line from general manager John Elway this offseason, and the 2015 bunch, under a new coaching staff and approach, has essentially lived up to the mantra so far, appearing to have more depth and chemistry and showing more fight, rallying from 14 points down to beat a trio of fellow AFC qualifiers (K.C., New England and Cincinnati) to earn the conference’s top seed. And they’ve done so with the previously untested Brock Osweiler at quarterback and Manning on the sideline for two of those three contests.

Still, Broncos Country has been there, done that in recent years, seeing extremely promising regular seasons evaporate under post-season pressure.

Now, once again, the true test lies ahead – 2:40 p.m. MT on Jan. 17 to be exact – as the real season has yet to begin.

And that’s when the 2015 Broncos can author their own story and truly start to differentiate themselves from recent editions past.


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