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Mason's Mailbag: Looking for reasons to believe

You mentioned on Orange and Blue radio that 3-5 teams make the playoffs only 8 percent of the time. Tell me why this team can be different.

-- Art Charles

Because:

  • The defense has recovered from its three-week funk against the run, when it surrendered 735 yards to the Chiefs, Jets and Rams. If you look over the last 16 games -- a season's worth of work -- the defense has allowed over 4.0 yards per carry just five times -- with three of them coming in those three games. In the last two seasons as a whole, it has held opponents to 4.0 or fewer yards per attempt in a league-leading 17 of 24 games. So at this point, those three games look like an anomaly.
  • Although interceptions have been a talking point this season, their turnover margin is better than last year. Last year, the Broncos were minus-17, second-worst in the league. This year, they stand at plus-1 -- not great, but a lot different than having an average of minus-1 per game.
  • If they match the level at which they played against the Rams and Chiefs, two of the league's top three teams at this moment, they should have enough to beat even the strongest of the teams that they play the rest of the way -- the Texans, Chargers, Steelers and Bengals, all of whom would make the postseason if it began today.
  • The Broncos have the ability to control the tempo of games because they lead the league in average per carry and rank second in first-down rate on the ground.
  • Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are both on pace for double-digit sacks. The Broncos have never failed to win 11 games in a season in which they had two players with at least 10 sacks, most recently going 12-4 in 2014 with Miller posting 14 sacks and DeMarcus Ware logging 10. (Of course, this has only happened four times since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, so take this potential occurrence with the small-sample-size grain of salt.

Now, bear this in mind: I am not a glass-is-half-full person. I am also not the glass-is-half-empty type. As long-ago DenverBroncos.com contributor Kyle Sonneman one told me, "Your glass is shattered on the floor." But there are reasons to believe the Broncos can put it all together -- if they win Sunday.

If they don't, they will be 3-6, and just four 3-6 teams in the last 40 years have recovered to make the playoffs.

With the requirement to give injury reports on Thursday, what if a player’s injury improves dramatically and he’s ready to play on Sunday? Could he play? 

We really missed Royce Freeman. 

-- J.R. Danzi

Such improvement like you suggest is why the final injury report, distributed on Friday before a Sunday game, has the "doubtful" designation. Outside linebacker Shane Ray fell into that category last week and did not play in Kansas City. A player being "doubtful" allows for the possibility that the player can take part in the game.

"Out," the designation for Freeman last week, is definitive. This week, he is questionable, so there is a decent chance he will be able to play, although it is not 100 percent.

Was it intentional when you said "Alexander" followed by "Hamilton" on the radio?

-- Sam Martinez

If I mention "Alexander" in juxtaposition with "Hamilton," it is always intentional. Thus, I will find ways to put Alexander Johnson and DaeSean Hamilton together in the same sentence. It's just like how some people will say, "no pun intended" when it often actually is.

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