But the other reason resides with the Broncos' defensive front four, comprised of a rotating cast of players that shares two characteristics: the jersey color each wears and a penchant for winning one-on-one duels up front and arriving at the ballcarrier not long after the handoff is completed.
The result is a defense that has seen just 40 run plays attempted against it in 156 snaps -- a run percentage of 25.6 percent, the lowest in the league. No one has forced opponents to be more one-dimensional than the Broncos, and only one other team has run more often than Monday's foe, the Oakland Raiders, who have kept it on the ground on 54.0 percent of their snaps, just 1.7 percent behind the Seattle Seahawks.
"If you don't stop the run and make a team one-dimensional, it's hard to win," said defensive end
Emphasis will help, but it's hard to imagine the Broncos being more effective than they were the last two weeks -- particularly against the Giants, who opened the game with 10 yards on their first two carries -- and then gained just 13 on their next 17, effectively ending their hopes of making the run game a threat.
Four different defensive linemen each posted a tackle for a loss against the run:
"That's just what we have to continue to do, continue to force our will, continue to play our ball and continue to dominate the one-on-one block," said Vickerson. "Whatever block you really get, you really have to dominate it."
The quickness off the snap wasn't always there for the defensive linemen last year, particularly on the inside. Some of that improvement is due to the return of Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio for a second season on the sideline, but Jackson suggests it's rooted more in the cohesion the defense has.
"I think it's that (Del Rio staying), but I think we're a lot more comfortable," he said. "We have me and Wolfe, and we've grown up a lot more with these vets in Vick and T-Knight, and I think it's just growing together and really understanding what we need to accomplish to get where we want to go."
The practice work hasn't hurt, either. Just as cornerback
"We have a great O-line to work against day in and day out with these guys over here," Jackson said, citing the technique of
"When you go into a game, it really kind of makes it easier, because we've got some great guys on this O-line."
And that's potentially bad news for anyone who tries to run on the Broncos' stout front four.