The Denver Broncos have had one of the NFL's elite defenses for years. Last season, the Broncos finished No. 4 in scoring defense and total yards and led the league in pass defense at under 186 yards allowed per game. But it's not good enough to take the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
The questions at quarterback are too great and, frankly, the running game isn;t that good, either. While the defense is elite, the Broncos offense ranked No. 27 in total yards a year ago, No. 21 in passing, No. 27 in rushing and No. 28 in yards per carry.
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Furthermore, the offense turned the ball over 25 times and generated just 67 plays from scrimmage of 25 yards or more through the air or at least 10 yards on the ground, 23rd most in the NFL.
But not all is lost before the season begins for the Broncos.
Turnovers and big plays is what the NFL is all about. There's a stat for that called toxic differential. Big plays are rushing plays of 10 yards or more and passing play of 25 yards or more. Add turnover margin and big play differential and you have that team's toxic differential.
As you can see, the eight Super Bowl teams the past four years have averaged a toxic differential of 36.25. The lowest being New England's 0 in 2014. The Broncos' Super Bowl winning team two years ago was plus-10. Denver finished last season at plus-13.
The problem is, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, who have elite quarterbacks and coaches, finished at plus-38 and plus-23.
It's conceivable Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian take the offense to another level this season, but if they don't, the Broncos are likely to find themselves in a battle for a playoff spot, let alone securing a top seed and flying high as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.