Since it’s a slow day at work this afternoon, I figured I’d toss out some tidbits that may be getting overlooked in our discussions about Peyton Manning, the offensive line, what offense to run and how well the defense has played.
Later in the season, we’ll start seeing the advanced NFL metrics and power rankings some people put together. I used to take those rankings and average them to get a clearer picture of how teams might actually rank, because the advanced metrics often depend on what the person doing them is considering. Whether or not I do that again remains to be seen.
But here are a few numbers worth considering from the Broncos’ first two games, some which are a good sign and some which indicate areas in which the Broncos need improvement that may not have been obvious upon first glance.
* The Broncos have won the time of possession in each game. In fact, looking at the Ravens’ game, a big reason they won was that the Broncos dominated TOP. They held the ball for 37:17 while the Ravens had it for just 22:43. Against Kansas City, the Broncos won TOP again, at 31:01 compared to KC’s 28:59.
* The Broncos have had trouble with penalties. Against Baltimore, they had eight penalties and lost 45 yards off them. Compare that to the Ravens, who had just three for 15 yards. Against KC, Denver had eight penalties for 85 yards while KC had nine penalties for 60 yards. Don’t know about you, but 16 penalties in two games and 130 yards lost to them isn’t something I’d be happy about.
* The Broncos have won the turnover battle in each game, 2 to 1 against Baltimore and 5 to 1 against KC. The only downside is the Broncos’ turnovers were pick sixes, but the good news is the Broncos returned two turnovers for TDs.
* Denver’s third-down conversion rate has been solid, though not great. The Broncos were eight of 18 against Baltimore and six of 16 against KC. The difference is the Broncos’ opponents have been worse. Baltimore converted just two of 13 third downs while KC converted none of their seven third-down opportunities.
* What happened to Denver’s opponents in the other games they played? Let’s look at Baltimore against Oakland first. The Ravens converted four of 11 third downs while the Raiders converted nine of 14, so there’s one factor that didn’t help the Ravens. And then there’s the penalties… Baltimore committed 10 for 109 yards. On the other hand, Oakland committed 16 for 106, so the Raiders weren’t really better in that department. Meanwhile, Baltimore lost the turnover battle 2 to 1 and just barely won TOP (30:27 to 29:33).
* Kansas City against Houston went like this: The Chiefs dominated TOP (35:19 to 24:41) and had no turnovers while Houston had two. They also had just two penalties for 25 yards, while Houston had six for 39. On the other hand, KC converted just 3 of 13 third downs, but Houston wasn’t better (3 of 14).
So the good news is that the Broncos have been better than their opponents at converting third downs (although the Broncos could be better at it themselves) and taking care of the football, but the downside has been the penalties. But perhaps the best thing about the Broncos is that they have twice won time of possession, and if the offense can improve in other areas, it will mean good things if the Broncos keep winning TOP.