The Denver Broncos have become one of the NFL’s surprise stories of the season at the midway point after a rocky start clouded their outlook. How has brotherhood, resiliency, and trusting the process benefitted them?

Denver Broncos in control of their AFC playoff destiny

The Denver Broncos are in the playoff hunt. After starting off 1-4, that isn’t something anybody expected to hear regarding this Sean Payton-led team.

As the Broncos prepare for Sunday’s Week 12 showdown against the Cleveland Browns, they are firmly in control of their destiny. One theme has stuck out with the Broncos since they’ve jumped onto a four-game win streak: they believe in one another and have showcased tremendous resiliency.

Various players have told Mile High Sports over the course of the last few weeks that the locker room has tuned out the noise from local and national media and at times, a critical fanbase.

By doing so, they’ve maintained focus on themselves, adjusting their scheme, and, more importantly, trusting in the teammate next to them. Since then, the Broncos have beaten the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings.

Denver (5-5) hosts a Browns (7-3) team that boasts a stingy defense. While Denver’s offense has found more balance lately, they can’t limit themselves on Sunday.

Myles Garrett’s pass rush is the most dangerous dynamic to watch out for on Sunday. If the Broncos can find a way to establish a healthy balance between the run game and utilizing a quick passing attack, they’ll have a better shot of neutralizing his presence.

Denver defensively is going to have to find a way to stop the run, something they’ve struggled with for the past two weeks. The unknown aura of a rookie quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson is something to watch for as well.

“I remember him because we watched a lot of him on film in the draft process,” Payton said on Friday. “They do a great job with what they do offensively. He’s athletic. He’s a guy that can stress you outside the pocket, and he has a strong arm. He’s done what you want from a backup. [He’s] come in and the team has continued to win. There are some things that he does, like the ones before him—even [Browns QB] Deshaun [Watson]—where you have to be ready when plays extend.”

With the Browns ahead of the Broncos in the wildcard, a win will help put them one step closer to jumping into the wildcard race. If Denver can take care of business on Sunday against Cleveland, they’ll firmly have a chance to get into the race as they face the Houston Texans next Sunday.

Final Broncos injury report for Sunday

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Denver Broncos have two players who will be questionable for kickoff.

Broncos safety P.J. Locke (ankle) is questionable. He missed Wednesday’s practice, upgraded from DNP to limited on Thursday, and was upgraded as a full participant in Friday’s practice.

Payton called Locke ‘day-to-day.’ Running back and special teams ace Dwayne Washington missed Friday’s practice with an illness and is questionable for Sunday.

Aside from those two, the Broncos are expected to be relatively healthy against Cleveland.

On the Browns side, they’ll be without several key players.

Cornerback Denzel Ward and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin have been ruled out.

Safety Juan Thornhill, linebacker Anthony Walker, and linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk are listed as questionable on the Browns injury report.

The Denver Broncos will host the Cleveland Browns for a 2:05 p.m. MT kickoff at Empower Field at Mile High. Fans who are unable to attend can watch the broadcast on FOX.