BRONCOS

Three numbers that tell the story of Broncos-Colts

Oct 7, 2022, 6:22 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

DENVER — This isn’t one of those times where the eyes and data are in conflict.

They tell you the same thing about the Broncos, the state of their offense and where things stand after Thursday’s 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

And it starts with the red zone. It hasn’t been the “Gold Zone,” as Nathaniel Hackett hoped. In fact, red has meant “stop” in a way that they could have never envisioned.

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21.4

Percentage of the Broncos’ red-zone drives to end in touchdowns. That’s the lowest rate in the league.

But here’s what makes it even worse: 35.7 of their red-zone possessions ended without a single point. So far this season, the Broncos are more likely to get nothing at all than score a touchdown when crossing the opponent’s 20-yard line.

And in total, the Broncos scored just 38 of a possible 98 points in the red zone through five games. Last night was a new nadir, as they mustered a field goal from four trips into Indianapolis’ red zone.

Exacerbating it all is Wilson’s season-long rating in the red zone: 50.3, per the numbers compile by pro-football-reference.com. That is dead last in the NFL, and well off the league-wide red-zone rating of 94.7.

It’s the red zone, indeed. It’s also the “lead zone,” as the Broncos appear to be wearing shoes made of lead when they cross into prime scoring range.

Or perhaps just the “dead zone”?

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17

The number of teams in the previous 15 seasons that had fewer than 80 points and 6 or fewer touchdowns in the regular season’s first five games. Denver became the 18th team since 2007 in this dubious club — and the first in three years, since the 2019 Miami Dolphins.

But the truly worrisome thing here is what happened to those previous 17 teams.

  • All of them finished with at least 10 losses;
  • Their average record in a 16-game schedule was 3.9 wins and 12.1 losses, which translates to 17-game paces of 4.1 wins and 12.9 defeats;
  • The four teams that were 2-3 or better among this sample size finished with records of 4-12, 5-11 or 6-10 (twice).

This is frightening for the Broncos.

Of course, the last team with fewer than 80 points and 6 or fewer touchdowns through five weeks that finished with a winning record was … the Broncos. They finished the 2006 season 9-7 after a 4-1 start with so few points and touchdowns. But it’s telling that they went 5-6 after this opening act.

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43

That WAS the length of the Broncos’ winning streak when allowing 12 or fewer points and not giving up a touchdown. That streak ended Thursday night.

Denver’s success in that scenario dated back to 1986. The Broncos’ last loss prior to Thursday with that set of circumstances was a 9-3 home defeat to San Diego on Nov. 9, 1986.

But wait, there’s more. Some bonus numbers, if you dare read on:

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46

Number of games since Super Bowl 50 in which the Broncos have scored fewer than 17 points — including four of five games this year.

Thursday’s performance nudged the Broncos past the New York Jets. Gang Green has 45 such games in that span, which began in 2016.

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5

Touchdown passes for the Broncos in their last 8 games. That is the Broncos’ fewest in an 8-game span since Week 17 of 2005 through Week 16 of the 2006 campaign. In that run, Jake Plummer had just 5 touchdown passes. Remarkably, the Broncos went 6-2 over those eight games.

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