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Broncos' Strength Revealed by Advanced Analytics

Everyone expected the offense to be the Denver Broncos' strength in 2022.
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Going into the season, Football Outsiders expected the Denver Broncos to have a good offense, but questions surrounded the defense.

FO's advanced analytics measurement, known as DVOA, projected the Broncos to be good offensively but not good defensively. Its preseason projections considered the fact that the Broncos' defense declined last season, but the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson could lead to better offensive production.

After two games, DVOA actually shows the Broncos to be better on defense than on offense. The Broncos rank 11th in overall DVOA at 17.5 percent but are 14th on offense (1%) and fifth on defense (-21.2% — keep in mind that DVOA is better for a defense when it's negative).

Of course, it's just a two-game sample, and DVOA has not yet been adjusted to account for strength of opposition. Still, the Broncos are getting more done on defense thus far than they are on offense.

After a slow first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, the Broncos' defense did a better job of stopping drives, particularly in the second half, then fared better against the Houston Texans in Week 2.

We saw what a healthy Chubb can do Week 1, then we saw Randy Gregory and Dre'Mont Jones can do in Week 2. Throw in Baron Browning, who had his moments in Week 2, and the Broncos show the signs of a good pass rush — a factor that's important with injuries in the secondary to Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II.

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As for the offense, Wilson has been doing his part, but the biggest issue has been finishing drives. Part of this comes from two goal-line fumbles in Week 1, and part of this comes from coaching decisions that cost the Broncos opportunities.

However, the Broncos have the potential to be very good on offense. The goal-line fumbles shouldn't be a regular occurrence, but the coaching staff must be more decisive with fourth-down decisions and avoid passing on every down when in goal-to-go situations.

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What also matters is how the Broncos fare against upcoming opponents. The Broncos will host the San Francisco 49ers this week, who rank 10th overall in DVOA at 20.2 percent, although DVOA likes the defense more than the offense.

The Niners' defense is ranked fourth, meaning the Broncos' offense is certain to get tested. The Niners' offense isn't ranked that high, but is expected to get tight end George Kittle back into the lineup. Also, Jimmy Garappolo has proven to be a capable QB to run Kyle Shanahan's offense.

On another note, the Broncos will have their work cut out regarding the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs are ranked fourth in DVOA at 32.2 percent, while the Los Angeles Chargers are ranked seventh at 23.6 percent.

In other words, the arms race predicted in the AFC West is coming to fruition. It means it's time for the Broncos to clean things up on offense if they want any chance at winning the division.

But if they can clean up the offense, the Broncos could be one of the better teams in the AFC if the defense can hold up. Again, it's just two weeks, but the defense has looked promising, and DVOA suggests how good it could be.


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