DENVER — The Broncos will debut a new uniform combination on Sunday against the Jets, as they'll don their new white "Snowcapped" alternate helmets with their all-orange Color Rush uniforms.
As they switch up their look, the Broncos will also aim to change their fortune at Empower Field at Mile High. After a pair of home losses by a combined three points, Denver will look to earn its first home win of the season and build off a 21-point comeback win against the Bears.
"We have a great home-field advantage, and we have a great fan base," Head Coach Sean Payton said Friday. "We have to give them something to get excited about — and then take advantage of the noise."
The Broncos have shown promise in the early weeks of the 2023 campaign, but they'll look to continue to clean up the mistakes that have plagued them in three losses — and to turn their potential into wins.
As Denver aims to earn its second consecutive win, here's a look at a question for the Broncos to answer, a matchup to watch and a stat to know.
ONE BIG QUESTION:
Can Denver's O-line slow DL Quinnen Williams and Co.?
The Broncos boast a top-10 scoring offense through four weeks, as Denver has averaged 25 points per game and already broken the 30-point threshold on a pair of occasions. Quarterback Russell Wilson has played a major factor in that success, as he entered Week 5 tied for second in touchdown passes and ranks third in passer rating. Wilson is the lone quarterback this season with nine or more touchdown passes and two or fewer interceptions.
Against the Jets, though, the Broncos will face a major test against New York's front. The challenge begins with defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, who has 17 quarterback pressures this season, according to Next Gen Stats. That total ranks fourth among defensive tackles through four weeks. For offenses, that interior pressure creates a unique challenge.
"This is a team that does a great job of getting pressure with a four-man rush," Payton said. "When you face an elite [defensive] tackle, or a group that's really good at [defensive] tackle, you don't have the luxury of chipping them or nudging them on the perimeter. Now, which direction the center turns is important, and especially ... [on] third down. If you're not getting a pressure look, which way do we want to [turn] ... because when the center turns towards [Rams DT] Aaron Donald for instance, you'd like to do that. They're smart enough sometimes to not let that happen and they cover the center up. ... There are nuances that become problematic. The biggest problem that always exists is that three-yard spot behind the quarterback. If that turf gets occupied by the defense, it gets hard to play quarterback."
Williams and the Jets' defense has allowed the fifth-highest third-down conversion rate in the NFL and allowed 21 points per game, but the group has buckled down in the red zone. Their opponents have scored touchdowns on just 25 percent of red-zone possessions, which ranks first in the NFL. The Broncos, meanwhile, boosted their offensive red-zone numbers in Week 4 by scoring touchdowns on all three opportunities.
Against the Jets, the Broncos must find a way to prevent Williams from disrupting the game and then convert on red-zone chances.
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Denver's run defense vs. RB Breece Hall
In last year's meeting, then-rookie Breece Hall made his presence known early as he broke off a 62-yard touchdown rush to give his team an early lead. Though he suffered a season-ending injury later in the game, he has returned and appears to have the same burst that he showed in 2022. Hall posted an 83-yard run in New York's Week 1 win and added a 43-yarder against the Chiefs last week.
Denver's defense has given up an average of 176 rushing yards per game, which ranks 32nd in the NFL. Those numbers are impacted by the Dolphins' 350-yard rushing performance in Week 3, but the Bears also posted 171 rushing yards in last week's matchup. There are reasons, though, that the unit could improve in Week 5. The Broncos held Josh Jacobs to 48 yards on 19 carries (2.5 YPC) in Week 1, and the Denver defense could be at its healthiest in several weeks. Inside linebacker Josey Jewell and safety Justin Simmons are both poised to return, and defensive tackle Mike Purcell is questionable to play.
If the Broncos can slow Hall and the Jets' rushing attack, they'll be able to make the Jets' offense one-dimensional and put pressure on Zach Wilson. The Jets quarterback posted a 105.2 rating in Week 4 against the Chiefs, which was the best mark of his career. Still, the Broncos may prefer to make Wilson prove he can match that performance. Over the last three games, the Jets have averaged 13.3 points per game and Wilson has had four turnovers and been sacked eight times.
STAT TO KNOW:
After posting two touchdown receptions in each of the last two seasons, Courtland Sutton is off to a hot start in 2023. The former Pro Bowler has three touchdowns through four games, and he's one of nine players this season with at least 20 catches, 200 yards and three scores through four games.
Sutton has made his share of big plays this season, and he ranks fourth in the AFC in gains of at least 25 yards since he entered the league in 2018.
Against the Jets, Sutton will likely face off against All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner, who was in coverage against Sutton at the end of last year's game. Gardner was not whistled for a penalty as Sutton lunged for a pass in the end zone of last year's game, and the Jets escaped with the win.
In this matchup, Sutton could continue his hot start to the season and perhaps help the Broncos earn redemption over New York.