Broncos Suddenly Look Like Formidable Opponents

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Not unlike the Minnesota Vikings, the Denver Broncos are digging themselves out of an early season hole with an impressive win streak. What might have been circled on the schedule as an “easy” game no longer looks quite so routine. The Broncos suddenly look like formidable opponents for the Vikings.

Broncos Suddenly Look Like Formidable Opponents

Minnesota and Denver meet this week in front of the primetime cameras on Sunday Night Football. The Broncos season mirrored the Vikings early on with a 0-3 start and their first win in Week 4. The hole got deeper as the Broncos went to 1-5, and all the talk surrounding Denver was how they get out of QB Russell Wilson’s colossal contract.

They were also expected to trade the WR duo of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy and maybe even trade star CB Pat Surtain. None of that happened, and the Broncos, like the Vikings, kept the band together and started winning games.

Broncos Suddenly
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They are on a three-game win streak that has moved them to a 4-5 record. The recovery hasn’t been as grand as the one in Minnesota, but it’s still impressive for a team that had been completely written off. Playing in the AFC, which is much stronger than the NFC right now, the path to the playoffs will be tough for the Broncos, but Sean Peyton and his team can certainly play spoilers as they did against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10. 

They toppled the Bills 24-22 on Monday Night Football, a week after upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs — the Green Bay Packers started the win streak. Denver will look to spoil Minnesota’s resurgence this week.

The Vikings shouldn’t be fearing anybody at the moment. They have won five straight games for a reason. Despite the adversity of constant injuries to key players, this Vikings team keeps stepping up and proving people wrong. However, the Broncos win streak against quality opponents is worth noting. A game being talked about being flexed out of its primetime slot at one stage is now set to be a battle of two of the NFL’s form teams — quite the turnaround.

Defensive Battle

A big reason for the turnaround both teams have enjoyed is the quality of play on defense. The Broncos offense is still somewhat stuttering, with Russell Wilson only managing 178 passing yards, and their leading receiver was Sutton with 53 yards, and Jeudy managed just 35 yards. The Broncos do have an efficient run game led by Javonte Williams. That is something the Vikings will have to get on top of. The strength of this Denver team is the defense, and giving the offense good field position so as not to ask too much of them is what has got this team going.

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The Broncos had four takeaways against the Bills, and although they only managed to convert them into two field goals on the night, it helped them dominate the time of possession and keep the Bills off the scoreboard for long periods. They forced another fumble that incredibly bounced back into the hands of Bills RB James Cook to continue his run for a big gain.

The Broncos also had three takeaways in their win against the Chiefs. As always, protecting the football will be vital for the Vikings offense. After struggling to take the ball away from the opposition at the start of the season, the Vikings have been excellent during this win streak. Keeping the turnover battle in their favor will be crucial.

Keep an Eye on Special Teams

Another aspect of the Broncos play that is taking pressure off their offense is rookie Marvin Mims’ kick/punt return ability. On Monday night, he returned one kickoff for 31 yards and two punts for 44 yards, taking his season tallies to 235 kick return yards, one touchdown from seven returns, and 186 punt return yards from 9 returns. The success of the Broncos relies heavily on good field position, which the Vikings will need to deny.

Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter against the Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Denver has joined Minnesota with the kicking problems. Will Lutz hit the goalpost from an extra point and then had no chance at a field goal when the hold was bobbled. Lutz then shanked the game-winning field goal attempt wide right, only to get a reprieve as Buffalo lined up with 12 men on the field.

Lutz composed himself and nailed the second attempt for the Broncos win. Meanwhile, Greg Joseph was back to missing field goals for the Vikings, shanking a 54-yarder that would have potentially put the Saints game out of sight much earlier.

Even with all the injuries, the Vikings have the better offense, and if they can score north of 24 points, they should win the game. That won’t be easy against a Broncos team that hasn’t allowed more than 22 points since Week 5 against the Jets.