After Week 3's win against the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos fans felt they could breathe a little easier knowing their team had just defeated a playoff-caliber team. However, with Sunday’s loss to the previously 0-3 Las Vegas Raiders, the anger and anxiety for this team's success going forward are at full throttle.
The Week 5 NFL power rankings reflect Denver’s loss, knocking them down two spots and returning to fourth in the division. Is it time to go into panic mode? Let's see what NFL.com's Dan Hanzus thinks.
Denver Broncos Ranking: 16
“We'll start with the good news: Russell Wilson is starting to look more like his old self. On Sunday, the quarterback connected on multiple downfield shots, kept plays alive with his legs and accounted for all three of Denver's scores. The bad news? Pretty much everything else. The Broncos lost to a division rival, their defense made Josh Jacobs look like Bo Jackson, Melvin Gordon had yet another killer fumble and defensive end Randy Gregory and running back Javonte Williams were both carted off with knee injuries. Gregory will miss some time after undergoing knee surgery, but the news on Williams was especially dismaying: The former second-round pick's season was ended by a torn ACL, and there is an arduous journey ahead.”
Indeed, Wilson’s play Sunday was very encouraging, even with the continued offensive woes. He connected on several deep balls and used his legs to extend plays, even picking up a touchdown on the ground. The Broncos have 99 problems going forward, but Wilson ain't one.
Losing to a division rival, especially one led by ex-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, stings significantly more. Jacobs hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft pedigree the past few years but always finds a way to run all over the Denver defense, and that continued Sunday when he tallied 144 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
For fielding a shoddy offensive line, the Raiders gave up only two sacks against the Broncos' pass rush. After Gregory was sidelined with a knee injury, Bradley Chubb was a non-factor, and the Broncos' interior line couldn’t mitigate the loss either.
Gregory will miss four games after being put on injured reserve, meaning Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto will need to step up big time. On the bright side, Patrick Surtain ll had an All-Pro-worthy performance in Vegas. When covering Raiders star receiver Davante Adams, Surtain only allowed four catches for 48 yards, three pass breakups, and zero touchdowns. He’s that guy.
Losing a second-year running back in Willaims, who was poised for a breakout year, is heartbreaking. Tearing his ACL, LCL, and PLC means it's likely he won’t return to form until 2024, if at all. That leaves Denver with Melvin Gordon, who once again coughed up the football, this time for a Las Vegas touchdown.
Broncos RB3 Mike Boone had one nice run but proceeded to brick two passes off his hands. GM George Paton quickly added another body to the stable by signing former Raiders running back Latavius Murray, who has fumbled only once since 2018.
The Broncos will look to find traction against a floundering Indianapolis Colts team on Thursday night. Denver hasn’t played well enough to think they can roll the Colts on a short week.
Every game since Seattle has been a 'get right' game, and that trend needs to end. If the Broncos wish to avoid a slide in their record and the power rankings, they need to come out swinging on Thursday.
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