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Denver Bronco prescription stat-in for week 8 of 2022

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By: Joe Mahoney

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

A look at where this Denver Broncos 3-5 team ranks in various stats as the team heads into the bye.

The 2022 Denver Broncos have allowed 132 and scored 121. The 132 points allowed through 8 games is 10th best in franchise history. The 121 points scored is the 3rd worst.

sortable table here : PtsO is opponent points

In terms of points allowed the two best teams in franchise history through 8 games were the 1977 and 1978 teams. The 77, Orange Crush team, only allowed 78 points in the first eight games of the season. That team finished the year as one of the best ppg scoring defenses in league history. They are the 11th best of all-time as they finished the regular season allowing 10.6 ppg. We should note that only 15 of the top 100 scoring defenses of all time occurred this century (2001-2021).

Rank Year Franchise Record ppg offense ppg defense
21 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12-4-0 21.6 12.3
27 2005 Chicago Bears 11-5-0 16.3 12.6
27 2006 Baltimore Ravens 13-3-0 22.1 12.6
32 2001 Chicago Bears 13-3-0 21.1 12.7
38 2001 Philadelphia Eagles 11-5-0 21.4 13.0
43 2001 Pittsburgh Steelers 13-3-0 22.0 13.3
56 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4-0 21.7 13.9
63 2019 New England Patriots 12-4-0 26.3 14.1
70 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4-0 20.3 14.2
74 2011 San Francisco 49ers 13-3-0 23.8 14.3
78 2013 Seattle Seahawks 13-3-0 26.1 14.4
82 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4-0 23.4 14.5
85 2008 Tennessee Titans 13-3-0 23.4 14.6
94 2009 New York Jets 9-7-0 21.8 14.8
94 2006 New England Patriots 12-4-0 24.1 14.8

The Broncos defense is currently 2nd in the NFL allowing 16.5 ppg. The Bills are only allowing 14.0 ppg through 7 (they’ve already had their bye). If they maintain that for the rest of the season, they will finish in the top 100 all-time. They will also potentially force the 1988 Bills off the top 100 list. That team allowed 14.6 ppg. The last team to allow fewer ppg than the Bills are currently allowing was the 2008 Steelers. They allowed 13.9.

It’s rather informative to look at the point DIFFERENCE (A minus B is a difference, NOT a differential) that some of these teams had. The 1968 Colts had the highest point difference for an elite scoring scoring defense. As a team they scored 18.4 more points than they allowed. Only two teams are in the top 30 from this century for point difference among the top 100 scoring defenses – the 2019 Patriots (12.2) and the 2013 Seahawks (11.7). There are actually four great scoring defenses that only allowed 1.0 point or fewer than their offenses scored. Philadelphia and Washington in 1977, Green Bay in 1974 and Chicago in 1993. The 1993 Bears scored 14.6 and allowed 14.4.

The 2022 Broncos are dangerously close to becoming that extremely rare team with an elite defense and an actrocious offense. The offense is scoring 15.1 and a defense that is allowing 16.5. No defense in the top 100 all time ppg allowed had an offense that scored less than they allowed.

If the Bronco defense can maintain this pace, they will finish as the 9th best scoring defense in franchise history, but this would only be the second time this century that a Bronco defense was this good at keeping opponents from scoring (2005 D was better).

Rk Team Season Pts G W L T Pts PtsO PPG Allowed
1 DEN 1977 274 14 12 2 0 274 148 10.6
2 DEN 1978 282 16 10 6 0 282 198 12.4
3 DEN 1989 362 16 11 5 0 362 226 14.1
4 DEN 1991 304 16 12 4 0 304 235 14.7
5 DEN 1976 315 14 9 5 0 315 206 14.7
6 DEN 1984 353 16 13 3 0 353 241 15.1
7 DEN 2005 395 16 13 3 0 395 258 16.1
8 DEN 1979 289 16 10 6 0 289 262 16.4
9 DEN 2022 121 8 3 5 0 121 132 16.5
10 DEN 1996 391 16 13 3 0 391 275 17.2
11 DEN 1993 373 16 9 7 0 373 284 17.8
12 DEN 1997 472 16 12 4 0 472 287 17.9
13 DEN 1981 321 16 10 6 0 321 289 18.1
14 DEN 2012 481 16 13 3 0 481 289 18.1
15 DEN 2015 355 16 12 4 0 355 296 18.5
16 DEN 2016 333 16 9 7 0 333 297 18.6
17 DEN 2003 381 16 10 6 0 381 301 18.8
18 DEN 1970 253 14 5 8 1 253 264 18.9
19 DEN 2021 335 17 7 10 0 335 322 18.9
20 DEN 2004 381 16 10 6 0 381 304 19.0

While that would mean there are only two Bronco defenses this century in the top 10, there are quite a number in the top 20 (see above) including the 2012, 2015-6, 2003-4, and 2021 defenses.

The window for a great defense is roughly four seasons, but you can see that in the chart below showing the entire history of Bronco points allowed. The late 70s, late 80s, early aughts and early-to-mid 2010s all boasted really strong Bronco defenses.


When viewing the chart above, keep in mind that scoring has been going up year over year in the NFL since the merger. The 1978 Broncos only allowed 12.4 points per game, but the league average in scoring that year was only 18.3 ppg. In 2021 the league average was 23.0. The highest average ppg in league history happened in 2020 – 24.8 ppg. In fact if I add the NFL average to the chart above, it provides a much clearer picture of how much better a given Bronco defense was than the average defense that season (see below).


This current Bronco defense has yet to face some really good scoring offenses. Some say that they have yet to be really tested. This Broncos defense has yet to face the #1 scoring offense (KC – twice), #5 offense (BAL), #15 offense (ARI), and has to face the #12 (LAC) and #13 (LVR) scoring offenses again after playing them once already. Of course the D also gets to face the 28th (LAR), 24th (TEN) and 22nd (CAR) ranked scoring offenses in the final 9 games.

Moving on from scoring let’s see how the Broncos rank in some other critical stats.

The Broncos offense is second to last in 3rd down conversion rate (29.2 percent) and the Bronco defense is currently 28th in 3rd down conversion rate allowed (44.9%). This does not bode well for the defense since the inability to get off the field usually leads to allowing touchdowns and not just field goals. In eight games, the defense has only allowed nine touchdowns (the offense allowed one), but holding the Chiefs and the Ravens to one TD is a much tougher feat that holding the Jets or the Jags to one. In terms of 3rd down conversions allowed, the Bills (who have the #1 scoring defense currently) are leading the league allowing conversion on only 30.8 percent of 3rd down attempts.

An offense that can’t stay on the field and a defense that can’t get off the field are a terrible combination.

The Bronco offensive line has also been one of the worst in the league at run blocking. One way to measure OL unit run blocking effectiveness is to look at the average yards before contact, YBC, that the team gets from runners. The higher the value the better. Currently the Jaguars and the Ravens runners are not getting touched, on average, until they are 3.9 yards past the LOS. That value is the best in the league and is in stark contrast to the Bucs at 1.6. Oddly enough the entire AFC West apparently is struggling with run blocking if you judge by average YBC (see below).

In terms of protecting our QB and pressuring theirs, the Broncos are currently 26th at preventing QB pressures (our OL allows pressure 23.0 percent of the time on dropbacks) while our defense is 10th getting pressure on 25.9 percent of opponent dropbacks. Our defensive pressure rate has been going down with Randy Gregory and now Baron Browning both out.

In terms of running the ball on first down, the Broncos are averaging 4.3 yards per carry, which is about average, but only 12 of our 107 runs on first down have resulted in a first down – 11.2 percent – which is one of the lower values in the league. The Bengals are currently the worst with only 5 of 91 first down runs resulting in a first down (not counting last night’s game). On defense the Broncos are now the fifth worst in the league against first down runs, allowing 5.3 yards per carry on first down runs. Only the Bears, Chargers, Texans and Giants are worse. The Giants are currently allowing a league worst 6.4 yards per carry on first down runs.

One of the reasons why the Broncos yards per carry on first down is so high is that we have now allowed 14 long runs on first down this season. Six of those went for 20 or more including the 62 yard TD run from Breece Hall, the 43 yard run from Josh Jacobs and the 37 yard run from Jeff Wilson. In fact six of the eight runs for 20 or more that have been allowed by the Broncos this season have come on first down. The two that haven’t are the 49 yard run from Etienne in London (2nd down) and the 22 yard run by Zamir White (3rd down).

In terms of red zone touchdowns the Bronco offense is still dead last at 35.0 percent, but we are not that far behind the Seahawks who are at 40.0 percent (currently second to last). The Bronco offense scored TDs on all three red zone trips against the Jaguars. The crazy thing about the comparison between the Seahawks and the Broncos is that the Seahawks are currently 4th in scoring while the Broncos are currently 31st despite both teams struggling to score TDs once inside the red zone. The Chiefs still lead the league by scoring TDs in the red zone – 76.7 percent of the time.

The Broncos defense has been league best at stopping TDs once opponents get inside the red zone. Our defense is only allowing TDs on 26.3 percent of red zone drives so far this season. It will be interesting to see what happens against the Chiefs. Only five of 19 red zone drives against the Broncos this season have resulted in touchdowns.

On Sunday the Broncos had three drives that were really effective as all three resulted in touchdowns. Those drives covered 75, 98 and 80 yards and accounted for 253 of the teams total yards on the day. The other nine drives gained a total of 78 yards and only four first downs. The Bronco offense did not gain a first down until 8:43 left in the second quarter when the team was down 10-0. After gaining that first down the Broncos outscored the Jags 21-7.

Despite a three touchdown performance against the Jags, the Bronco offense is still maddeningly inconsistent. The Broncos have the second most three-and-outs on the season with 27 in 8 games. Only the Steelers have more with 28. The 49ers currently have 7.

On the flip side of that, our defense has forced 24 three-and-outs, which is 3rd best in the NFL. Only the 49ers and the Packers defenses have forced more. The Chiefs and Chargers defenses have forced 11 which is the second lowest total in the league. Only the moribund Lions have forced fewer with 10.

The Broncos offense is 29th in scoring percentage (percentage of drives that result in a score) at 28.0 percent. The Packers, Steelers and Commanders have been worse so far. The Chiefs lead the league scoring on 50 percent of their drives so far this season while the Raiders are second at 47 percent.

Originally posted on Mile High Report