The Denver Broncos are in a downward spiral following two poor performances against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. With back-to-back losses, the team falls from the driver’s seat in the AFC West to fighting to keep pace with its loaded conference.
In both contests, the Broncos looked to be outcoached and lacking in physicality. That must change this week for the team to get back on track.
After the Broncos won their first three games, the playoff probability sat at an astounding 75 percent.
Per Playoffstatus.com, entering this week Denver has a 46 percent chance of making the playoffs. Currently, the Broncos sit as the AFC’s seventh and final seed. The team ahead of them, their next opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders lost their head coach due to significant and disturbing news that surfaced over the last week. Las Vegas struggled in its previous contest and lost handily at home against the Justin Fields’ led Chicago Bears.
All the evidence points to the Broncos having the advantage between the two storied rivals. However, there is an uneasy feeling amongst the fan base. Trust in the coaching staff to effectively game plan and adapt to their opposition has been lost, and rightfully so.
Vic Fangio and his staff have not shown the capability to outcoach other staffs on a week-to-week basis. Therefore, it is fair to doubt that this staff can change their habits from the last two weeks and capitalize against the Raiders.
Facing a rudderless team, will Denver impose its will early? They have yet to do that against any of their opponents this season, so how or why would that change this week?
The organization must answer that question on Empower Field Sunday afternoon in a must-win game.
Though this contest is happening early in the season, the Broncos’ chances of being relevant in December and January fall significantly with a loss.
For instance, Denver would suffer its third straight loss to a conference opponent. All of which it will be battling for playoff positioning at the end of the season. Also, the Broncos will find themselves two full games back of first place.
A win and the team keeps pace in the AFC West. With a loss from the Los Angeles Chargers, and it sits tied for the top spot in the division. Also, the team gains position in the AFC postseason picture.
So why is one game a must-win?
The Broncos have a tough matchup against the Cleveland Browns next Thursday. A trip to the ‘Dog Pound’ is a tough order and a game this team will be hard-pressed to win. This makes a victory against the Raiders necessary.
Heading into the matchup with the Browns the Broncos season has gone one of two ways. A loss to the Raiders and Denver will have a 3-3 record with a losing record against conference foes. A win against Las Vegas and this team has a 4-2 record with a winning record against the AFC and its division and also has that wonderful taste of winning again.
A win and Fangio’s staff rebuilds some credit in Broncos Country. If Denver lays an egg, the calls for a new coach will grow louder and louder.