There’s no better way to break in a first-time starting quarterback than to support him with one of the league’s best scoring defenses. That’s how the Broncos went 6–2 in the first half with Trevor Siemian playing sound yet unremarkable football. But unlike last season, Denver’s D has a flaw, allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game, 21st in the league. As the Falcons and Chargers have proved, the fortunate opponents that scratch out an early lead can melt away the clock with a decent ground game, and the Broncos don’t run the type of quick-strike offense well-suited for comebacks.

With all four games against the Chiefs and Raiders left on the schedule, Siemian needs to be ready to raise his game if things start slipping out of control. Denver’s AFC West title defense—let alone its Super Bowl hopes—could depend on it.

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