DENVER — The Broncos aren't worried.
As the national media questions the team's offense or if the defense can respond, the Broncos have shown resolve.
They are one of eight teams in the AFC with a 2-2 record and they sit just a game back of the three AFC teams with one loss.
Urgent? Yes. Several Broncos spoke this week about the need to start stacking wins. But there is no panic.
"I think every game has a history of its own," Wilson said. "You can worry about all of the things ahead, but what I do know is there are a lot of teams that are 2-2 and a lot of teams — a handful of teams that are 3-1 — and we're right in striking distance.
"We got them right where we want them, so we have to go get it."
On Thursday, the Broncos (2-2) will face the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) with a chance to improve to 3-2 and 3-0 at home for the first time since 2017.
With a win, the Broncos will also head into an 11-day gap between games with victories in three of their last four contests.
The challenge, though, will not be easy. The Colts knocked off the Chiefs in Indianapolis in Week 3, and they almost stormed back in games against the Texans and Titans.
A slightly banged-up Broncos team will need to put forth its best effort on "Thursday Night Football."
These are the questions that will determine if the Broncos can earn a win and keep their home streak alive.
CAN RUSSELL WILSON CONTINUE HIS MOMENTUM?
Broncos fans saw flashes of Russell Wilson's potential during hisfirst three games, but he put together his most complete performance against the Raiders.
Wilson completed 17-of-25 passes for 237 yards, two touchdowns and a 124.9 quarterback rating, and he only had one incompletion in the first half of Sunday's game. He also ran for another touchdown late in the game.
During the Broncos' comeback attempt, Wilson showed off his ability to scramble for first downs and make plays down the field. He connected with his receivers for five passes of at least 20 yards, including a 55-yarder to KJ Hamler in a crucial moment.
Against the Colts, Wilson will aim to replicate that performance vs. a former All-Pro in Stephon Gilmore.
"I've known Stephon since he was at Buffalo," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said Tuesday. "I remember when he would sit in our quarterback rooms — I'm regretting it a little bit now. He studies the game, [and] he's another humble guy. I think when you see people that are as humble as him and just want to go out there and play, [it] is something special. I remember when he was at Buffalo, you knew what kind of player he was going to be, and he's proved that consistently throughout his career. He's still playing at a very elite level. So they put him out there, they put him on [an] island a lot, and he steps up to the challenge. I've gone against him a bunch, been on his team. He's a very good football player."
In this Thursday night matchup, Wilson doesn't need to throw the ball 50 times or for five touchdowns. But if he can make timely throws on third down, challenge the Colts down the field and make some more late-game magic, the Broncos should feel good about their chances.
HOW WILL THE BRONCOS' RUN GAME RESPOND?
The Broncos lost a key piece of their offense when Javonte Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Raiders, but Denver must find a way to move forward.
Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten suggested the Broncos would lean on Melvin Gordon III as he tries to rebound from a series of fumbles, and the Broncos also signed running back Latavius Murray. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, though, did not specify whether the newly signed player would be active just days after playing a game in London.
"He has to have progress each day," Outten said of Gordon. "That's the whole thing of this whole team. … We're not expecting perfection; we need progress. You can't be perfect; that's when you freeze, and that's when things happen. So with Melvin, he's going to carry the load, obviously, with a mix of [Mike] Boone. Then after that, we have to figure out who can spill and who feels best in that position. But we trust Melvin going forward here."
Denver will need to find success in the run game to avoid becoming one-dimensional, but they'll face a stiff test in a Colts rushing defense that ranks sixth in the league despite being without Shaquille Leonard for much of the season.
If the Broncos can get going, though, it may be a strength to exert their physicality. And while the Broncos' passing game has gotten the bulk of the attention, Denver actually ranks higher in rushing than passing. The success on the ground has become particularly evident in the red zone.
"That's something that we're going to lean on, and something that we believe in," Outten said of running the football. "Not only in the open field, but going downhill at these guys and having the more of an opportunity to break a tackle, because it gets muddy down there. The more passing you do, the tighter the windows get. Defenses are getting better with zero coverage and hiding it. So there's nothing better than running it and then having the opportunity to pass off the same formation or motion."
Should the Broncos find success in the run game, it should also normalize time of possession and help a defense that was on the field too much in Week 4.
CAN THE DEFENSE BOUNCE BACK?
Denver's defense was dominant through the first three weeks of the season, as they ranked near the top of the league in nearly every metric. The Broncos' Week 4 loss wasn't the disaster that some would have you believe — Denver still came up with a third-quarter goal-line stand and allowed just nine points in nearly 40 minutes of game time — but there are some things to clean up.
Against the Raiders, the Broncos' run defense wasn't quite in sync, and as a result, Josh Jacobs had a career day. The Broncos will benefit from All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor being ruled out, but Nyheim Hines remains a capable, do-it-all player — and former Bronco Phillip Lindsay could be a candidate to be elevated with eyes on a big game in his return to Denver.
As the Broncos look to recapture their defensive magic, it's imperative that they play within the system rather than freelance to make plays. And with the Colts making a habit of trying to surge back late in three of their four games, the Broncos must find a way to maintain that effort throughout the game.
"I think the biggest thing for us [is] trying not to do too much," Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero said. "Just playing our core fundamentals, and I think sometimes as coaches and players, you have a tendency to want to make a play to win the game and press. We just have to trust the process, one play at a time, stay disciplined with our fundamentals, stay disciplined in how we're calling the game — all of those things — and we'll be just fine."
The Broncos' biggest question may come opposite of Bradley Chubb, where Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto seem like the most likely options to fill in for the injured Randy Gregory. If Browning and Bonitto can help set the edge in the run game and get to Matt Ryan — who has fumbled nine times in the early stretch of the season — Denver should have a chance to regain its footing on the defensive side.
"He has to be ready," Hackett said of Bonitto. "It's that simple. He's a young guy, and he's played in some big games in college, and we're excited to see him get out there. He's developed every week, he's gotten better and better. Even in practice, his practice habits have gotten better. As [with] any rookie, there's a process of learning how to be a pro, a process of learning throughout everything, so it's just going to get better."
If the Broncos can maintain their assignments and operate outside of the defensive scheme, they should find success.