Denver Broncos Continue To Impress

Donna CavanaghCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Eddie Royal #19 of the Denver Broncos smiles on the sidelines after one of two first half touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers during Monday Night Football on October 19, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

We admitted last week in our article “2009 NFL Surprise Teams: Broncos and Bengals” that we were wrong in our preseason expectation of the Broncos. As we said last week, we saw the disarray in the Broncos’ camp surrounding the Cutler fiasco and the Brandon Marshall suspension, and we thought the Broncos were a last place team waiting to happen.

We did a new chart last week in our article “NFL 2009 Win–Loss Records: A Look at the Schedule Excuse." In this article, we looked at all of the teams with winning records who had faced competition also with winning records. The list last week consisted of three teams, and this week there are five.

One of the things that was true last week and is still true this week is that not a single one of the unbeaten teams has faced competition with a combined record over .500, while none of the winless teams have faced competition with a combined record under .500.

However, the Broncos and Saints are actually close. In fact, for both teams, if you drop the games their past opposition has played against them, then their competition’s combined records would be over .500. This is not true for the other two unbeaten teams: the Vikings and Colts.

Clicking on this chart will take you to's 2009 Schedule analysis page where this chart and others are updated weekly

Going forward, the Broncos’ competition does not appear to be that tough in that they have a combined win-loss percentage of just .491. We are not trying to argue that the Broncos do not have some tough teams in their future; they do.

They still have to face the Steelers (4-2), the Colts (5-0), the Giants (5-1), the Eagles (3-2), and the Ravens (3-3). Given the way the Broncos have played the first six games, we now have to believe that they can win at least two of those five tough games.

In our preseason preview, we said it looked like the AFC West was the Chargers’ division to lose. As we have said, that was a poor assessment. We call ourselves a “data analysis” company, so we try to learn as much from our mistakes as from our successes. So, we went back over our preseason data, and we are going to blame some of our “surprise” on human error.

It turns out our Preseason “Relative Performance Measure (RPM)” data was pointing to good things for the Broncos relative to the Chargers in their division. If you go back to our article “2009 NFL Preseason Performance Rankings” you will see we said:

“So, are we concerned about the 1-2 Chargers who have a terrible -55 RPM? Yes, we are a little. To us, this might be a warning flag. We would rather see the Chargers’ RPM up there with the 0-3 Broncos.”

In the chart in that article, the Broncos were 10th with an RPM of positive 9.96. If you read through the comments in that article you will see that we took some heat from Chargers’ fans who just wanted to throw out the preseason. We mistakenly agreed that you probably should not read too much into preseason data.

However, our stat is scoring drive-based, and good numbers can be accumulated quickly even in preseason, so perhaps we undervalued the chart a little.

If we look back on that preseason chart we see the bottom five consisted of the Raiders (currently 2-4), Chargers (2-3), Rams (0-6), Titans (0-6), and Chiefs (0-6). The top five consisted of the Saints (5-0), Falcons (4-1), Steelers (4-2), Cardinals (3-2), and Jets (3-3). We’ll remember that next year when we look at preseason performance.

This week’s regular season RPM chart has the Broncos at seventh with an RPM of positive 39. This is a really nice performance, and while their future schedule has some teams with good RPMs, only two—the Steelers and Giants—are currently higher than the Broncos.

Our RPM chart this week is below: