2016 Broncos Season, Bye Week
Week 11 isn't quite in the books, as the Raiders host the Texans tonight. So the outcome of that could change some things, but regardless of how the Raiders do, the Broncos will come out of their bye week in a dog fight for the AFC West title. The Broncos are 7-3, as are the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost on Sunday, at home, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Raiders win, they'll maintain a one-game lead in the division. If they lose, we'll start Week 12 in a three-way free-for-all for the AFC West with six games to play.
In order for the Broncos to have a shot at winning, and for them to make hey in the playoffs, here's a few things they need to work on.
1. Offensive Line Play. This is the Broncos' single biggest issue, and it's been crippling. The line isn't pass blocking or run blocking well, and they've drawn plenty of penalties. Some of it could be health, but a lot of it seems to be a personnel struggle. That's got to improve. If they can't protect Trevor Siemian or open holes for Devontae Booker, the team won't be able to go anywhere this season.
2. Defense needs to get healthy. The defense has struggled of late, and a lot of that was due to missing pieces. DeMarcus Ware got hurt, then Derek Wolfe got hurt and Aqib Talib has missed three games. The Broncos' defense is elite when it has all its pieces, and hopefully the bye was the salve needed to get those pieces back into place.
3. Trevor Siemian has to grow. Reports surfaced heading into the bye week that he's still injured. Perhaps that explains some of it. But Siemian has been woefully inaccurate, particularly on passes over 10 yards in length. That's changed the way defenses play the Broncos, and that hasn't helped. Siemian needs to grow and progress, not regress as it had appeared before the bye. Siemian is a key to how far the Broncos can go in 2016.
4. Division Games are key. The Broncos are in a fight for the AFC West, and of their six remaining games they play the Chiefs twice and the Raiders once. Those three games, in addition to the game hosting the New England Patriots, will go a long way toward shaping the AFC playoff picture.
5. Need some luck. At this time last season, no one would have predicted the Broncos as the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. It took some good play, but also a lot of luck. The AFC leaders will all be tight-packed at 7-8 wins heading into the stretch run. It's going to take good play, and some luck, to see where the seeding shakes out.