Through five games of the regular season, the Broncos currently stand at a 2-3 mark, in second place in their division, and just a game behind the San Diego Chargers before their impending game on Monday night with their division rivals in Week 6.
Through five games, the Broncos have defeated the likes of the Steelers and the Raiders in convincing fashion, while also losing to elite teams such as the Falcons, the Texans and the Patriots in likewise convincing fashion.
What is the point?
The Broncos are not an elite team. Yet. The Broncos aren't a great team. Yet. And the Broncos aren't at a level where they can compete with these aforementioned elite teams through a full game.
Yet again, for the third straight game against an elite team, the Broncos trailed by a large deficit. And when I mean large, I mean large. The Broncos trailed 31-14 early on in the fourth before mounting yet another late comeback, before falling short yet again, 31-21 in Foxboro. This was like deja vu, as we saw the exact same late rallies against both the Falcons and the Texans. The Broncos trailed the Falcons 27-7, and also trailed the Texans 31-11, before finally coming up six points short against both teams.
This is a scary reality for Broncos fans. We're just not there yet. And it's really not even close.
Through the first three quarters of all three games vs. the Falcons, Texans and Patriots, the Broncos have been outscored 89-25. Put that into perspective for a minute. 89-25.
It's nice that the Broncos like to mount furious rallies at the end, and that they have that 'never say die' attitude with Peyton Manning running the offense. However, if the team continues to be outplayed and dominated through the first three quarters of play every time the Broncos play an elite team, what does that say about the Broncos themselves?
The fact of the matter is this—a lot of the problems that plagued this team last year, are plaguing the team this year. One of the big problems is the inability to stop elite quarterbacks. I'm not saying the Broncos need to shut down these quarterbacks. All I'm expecting is for the defense to put the quarterback in a position where he doesn't feel completely comfortable throwing the football. When Tom Brady goes 17/20 in the first half, with very little pressure or pass rush from the front seven, it's a huge problem.
If somebody like myself is predicting the Patriots will run this type of offense before the game even starts, that should mean that the defense knows what to expect from Brady. They saw him twice last year. The fact that they know what to expect, and still can't slow down Brady, is extremely discouraging.
The offense gets it going in the fourth quarter, and it shows glimpses of its ability to move the ball down the field, yet, they simply cannot finish off drives. Whether that's because of Demaryius Thomas fumbling the football, or because of turnovers, or because Manning can't seem to get it going until the fourth, the offense simply has problems scoring points early on in the game.
With the defense not carrying its end of the weight, and the offense doing the same thing likewise, it puts the team in early deficits that makes it hard for the team to actually have a legitimate chance at winning.
The reality through fives games of the season is this—the Broncos have a hard time competing with elite teams, because of one simple reason—they simply are not an elite team thus far.
And it's not even a debate.