The Broncos season is already at a tipping point

Oct 7, 2021, 3:30 PM
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 3: Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) walks to the sideli...
(Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Broncos are 3-1. Normally, that wouldn’t be cause for concern. At roughly the quarter post of the season, those results would be touted as sign that a team is headed toward great success.

But not in Denver. Instead, the Mile High City awash with hand-wringing.

It’s gotten to the point where Sunday’s game against the Steelers has been called a “must win” by some. Tyler Polumbus deemed it that this week on “The Drive.”

Technically, it’s not. The Broncos aren’t eliminated from anything of they fall to 3-2 with a loss in Pittsburgh. There are still 12 games to be played.

But practically speaking, Polumbus is right. That’s because the game against the Steelers feels like a fulcrum. How it goes will determine the rest of the season.

That’s because it’ll show if the Broncos are a contender or a pretender. That remains a big question at this point.

Yes, the Broncos have won three games. But they beat the Giants, Jaguars and Jets, teams that are a combined 2-10 this season.

When Denver played a good team, they reverted back to their old ways. It suggested that nothing had changed.

Vic Fangio couldn’t manage the clock. Pat Shurmur refused to stick with the running game. The Broncos couldn’t cover a tight end. Denver’s offense sputtered.

It was the same old storylines. And the same old results, as the Broncos lost by 16 points on their home field.

A loss on Sunday would suggest that nothing has changed. It would plant a seed of doubt. And it could snowball.

At 3-2, the Broncos would face a good Raiders team in Denver and then a playoff-worthy Browns team in Cleveland on a short week. Those are two tough games. It’s not a stretch that Denver could be 3-4 by Oct. 21.

In 18 days, the team’s undefeated start would’ve evaporated. And in the process, the pitchforks will be out.

Fangio will be on the hot seat. So will Shurmur.

The choice to go with Bridgewater will be scrutinized. So will the Broncos first-round pick, free agent decisions and other personnel moves.

The boat will be sinking. And the passengers will be fleeing.

A loss on Sunday makes that a likely scenario. It certainly puts it in play.

A win would have the opposite effect. It would provide a huge boost.

Confidence would soar. The problems of the past would appear to be in the rearview mirror.

Next Sunday’s game against the Raiders would be rocking. It’d arguably be the most-anticipated Broncos game since Super Bowl 50.

Beating the Steelers would put Denver on a track toward the playoffs. Losing in Pittsburgh puts them back on the same ugly path they’ve traveled for five years.

It’s early October. There’s a lot of football to be played. But Sunday is a tipping point for the Broncos season.


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