The Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos look quite different over the lifespan of their respective franchise histories, but in the past week the 2017 version of the Rockies has started to show an eerie resemblance to the 2016 Broncos.

Nine months ago, on Sept. 25, 2016, the Denver Broncos were 3-0 and leaving Cincinnati 29-17 victors over the Bengals in their first road test of the season. Two days later, ESPN would put the defending Super Bowl champs atop their power rankings for Week 4, just ahead of the New England Patriots. Those two teams’ seasons would end much differently.

Rockies fans are desperately hoping that their team takes a turn more in the direction of the Super Bowl LI champion Pats than of their Downtown Denver neighbors, who missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.

The 2016 Broncos, with their three world championships and 15 division titles in tow, shot out of the gate with a perfect 4-0 record. Trevor Siemian was injured in a Week 4 victory over Tampa Bay, but Paxton Lynch looked more than capable in relief, guiding the Broncos to victory.

The 2017 Rockies, having never won the National League West in 24 tries, jumped out to a similarly hot start to their season. Forty-one games in, German Marquez, starting in place of the injured Jon Gray, delivered Colorado’s 26th win. Perched atop the National League, Colorado looked very much like the best team on the senior circuit.

A quarter of the way into each of those seasons, all signs were pointing to successful runs to the postseason, if not slightly surprising ones.

No one really knew what Trevor Siemian was going to deliver as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. For all his smarts, his dedication and his tutelage under Peyton Manning, Siemian was still a big question mark. Yet he beat the 2015 MVP Cam Newton, perennial Pro Bowler Andrew Luck and a QB with a lifetime .602 winning percentage, Andy Dalton, in his first three starts.

The same was true for Colorado’s rookie-laden starting rotation. Rockies manager Bud Black expected Gray and Chad Bettis to anchor his rotation. Instead, it was Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela – neither of which had a major league start to his name prior to this season – who carried Colorado out to an early lead in the NL West. Senzatela picked up the Rookie of the Month Award for April, and Freeland would go 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA through the first quarter of the season.

Football coaches like to break the season into quarters – four games apiece. Win every quarter and you’re going to the playoffs. Lose or tie a quarter-season, you’ve still got a chance. Lose or tie more than one, hope you play in the AFC South.

The Broncos dropped the first two games of their second quarter-season in 2016, showing signs of what was to come. Lynch lost his first NFL start to the eventual NFC champs, Atlanta. Trevor Simian struggled in his return and the Chargers stunned the Broncos on a Thursday night in San Diego. Denver rebounded to win their next two games and hit the halfway point at a solid 6-2, controlling the AFC West and ranked No. 3 in the power rankings, but during that stretch there were signs for concern.

They lost C.J. Anderson to injury. They weren’t converting third downs. The defense was struggling against the run. The Broncos would win just three more games on the year, sliding in the standings (and the power rankings) with each passing week.

Baseball isn’t quite so easy to break up into square fractions. Managers prefer to look more at series than quarter-seasons. Win more series than you lose, count on playing in October. Tie or lose more than you win, get the golf clubs ready.

Still, the quarterly approach works in baseball. The Rockies have fared significantly better in the second quarter of the season so far, going 22-16 so far, yet causes for concern exist.

The bullpen, so good through the first quarter of the season, has recently shown signs of fatigue and inconsistency. The rookie starters, virtually unstoppable through April and May, have slowly watched their ERAs creep higher and higher. The red-hot starts from Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds have cooled a bit, while Carlos Gonzalez still has yet to turn things around from his career-worst start.

The Rockies are fresh off two very important series losses. Heading into the final series of the first half of the season, it’s critical they close it out strong.

Leading the National League in wins (and perched atop those perilous power rankings) entering last week’s three-game series with Arizona at Coors Field, Colorado took the first game in dramatic fashion thanks to Nolan Arenado. They proceeded to get outscored 26 to 8 over the next two games, dropping the series and falling out of first place in the NL West. They fared no better in Los Angeles getting swept in the three-game series and now trail both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in the division. The meltdown in the series finale didn’t do much to inspire confidence for the road ahead.

Colorado next heads to San Francisco, a team they’ve beat 10 times already this season. After that, they get a chance for redemption against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Game one of that series, No. 82 on the year, mathematically starts the second half of the season.

The Broncos managed to split the third quarter of the season, 2-2, but three consecutive losses to open the final four games of 2016 spelled doom for their playoff hopes.

A .500 record for the Rockies the rest of the way might be enough to sneak them into the playoffs. They’ve built up enough of a cushion and the NL Central and East are all so mediocre this year that it could happen. But they can’t count on that. And they certainly can’t win at a .375 clip over the second half of the season like the Broncos did last year. If they do, all those early expectations will end in the same place – disappointment.