Denver Broncos Playoff Hopes

Evan Johnson, Staff Writer

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For many Rocky Students, including me, the Denver Broncos are our ride or die team. We follow them everywhere and are always rooting for them.

This season we had high hopes with GM John Elway’s cap busting signing of the star QB Case Keenum. Keenum signed on to the Broncos for a 2yr/$36,000,000 deal accompanied by a $6,000,000 signing bonus.

However, in many ways Keenum has grossly underperformed. He has thrown for 15 TD through 13 games with 10 interceptions and an average of 1.1 TD a game, leaving him well below the league best of 3.3. Keenum has also thrown more interceptions than the Bills (4-9) rookie QB Josh Allen who is known for his wild passes. Entering week 15 our Broncos sit at 6-7 with a seemingly dismal chance at making the playoffs.

 

The first order of business for the Broncos is to win out the rest of the season. With three games left, a lot hangs on playing solid football. Sophomore student Joel Anderson said, “For the Broncos to make the playoffs, the team has to start playing with pride and want to make Colorado proud.” The next three games for the Broncos are 12/15 vs. the Cleveland Browns (5-7), 12/24 at the Oakland Raiders (3-10), and 12/30 vs. the L.A. Chargers (11-3).

 

The Browns have won three out of their last four and seem to be on some sort of a roll. These Browns are also looking to clinch a playoff berth, and the Broncos game is the first step towards their playoff hopes.

Since Gregg Williams replaced Hue Jackson as head coach and Freddie Kitchens replaced Todd Haley as offensive coordinator, the Browns have flourished. Starting QB Baker Mayfield has had five games, during which he completed at least 67 percent of his passes. No other Browns quarterback has accomplished that since 1999. The key for the Broncos is to shut down the Browns blooming RB Nick Chubb who has run for 760 yards on 144 attempts with eight TD.

 

The 2019 NFL draft will be held April 25 to 27 in Nashville, Tennessee. Three teams, including the Oakland Raiders, are the front runners for the No. 1 pick because of their three-win records. At this point in the season winning is losing for the Raiders as that pulls them further away from a possible 1st pick in the draft.

Plagued by injuries, Oakland has eight players out. As of December 13th they only have a 38% chance of beating the Broncos on Christmas Eve. Although the Raiders players are not thinking about their possible draft stance, the Broncos still have a major advantage against them.

The final test for the Broncos is facing a red hot Chargers team at home in Denver. Sophomore Jason Bishop says, “ if we want to beat the Chargers we’re going to need a miracle.” The Chargers have the amazing combo of an explosive passing game and an electric rusher in Melvin Gordon. Philip Rivers has thrown for 31 TD through 14 games and is averaging 2.2 passing TD per game. Rivers has almost two times more touchdowns than Case Keenum.

On top of an amazing offense, rookie Derwin James has 92 tackles and three interceptions through 14 games, proving lethal against any lack of focus on the offensive side of the ball. If the Broncos want to overcome the Chargers huge statistical advantage, they are going to need a star performance from rookie RB Phillip Lindsay. So far this season Lindsay has run for 967 yards (4th highest in the league) with 168 carries for a total of nine TD.

Lindsay’s 5’8’’ 190 lb frame has been able to handle the league’s toughest defenses, such as his 157 yard two touchdown performance against Cincinnati in Game 11. The Broncos will need him to prove himself one last time in week 17 if they want to make a push for the highly sought after AFC wild card spot.