Denver puts Cincy shame to shame
Teams have the same records, but Broncos have had more of a fall.
As poorly as the Cincinnati Bengals have played, they still find themselves well back of the Denver Broncos for the label of most disappointing team of the season.
The Broncos, who will play host to the Bengals on Sunday, own the same record as the Bengals at 3-6. Denver is two seasons removed from a Super Bowl championship, and the Broncos came into 2017 having posted five consecutive winning seasons, four of which featured at least 12 wins.
But things have fallen apart under first-year coach Vance Joseph, a former Bengals assistant from 2014-15.
All six Broncos losses have been by double digits, and they are riding their first five-game losing streak since 2010. Denver hasn’t lost six in a row since 1990.
The defense that ranked fourth in the league in 2016, including first against the pass, is still formidable. The Broncos are fourth in total defense (293.6), fifth in rush defense (89.6) and eighth in pass defense (204.0).
But the Denver quarterbacks continually put
the defense in bad positions. Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler have combined to throw 13 interceptions, second only to the 18 thrown by Cleveland quarterbacks.
The Broncos also have lost eight fumbles. Their 21 give- aways are second only to the Browns’ 23.
All those turnovers are giving opponents short fields, which is a big reason a Den- ver defense that is so solid in the yardage numbers ranks 29th in points allowed (26.6).
The Broncos have at least two turnovers in eight of nine games, and 15 during the five- game losing streak.
Joseph benched Siemian after seven games and inserted Osweiler as the starter two weeks ago, and the move has hardly provided a spark.
Denver lost 51-23 at Philadelphia two weeks ago and 41-16 Sunday night at home against New England. Oswe il er is completing 52 percent of his passes with two touch- downs and three interceptions, even though the Broncos are built to make things easier on the quarterback with a great defense and solid running game.
The top three rushers, C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker, each aver- age more than 4 yards per carry, and the Broncos have more first downs than their opponents (171 to 155) and a better third-down comple- tion percentage (39.4 to 27.6).
But while the offensive line deserves some credit for paving the way for three backs to average at least four yards, it gets a healthy dose of the blame for allowing 28 sacks, which is tied for seventh most in the league.
The Broncos do have one thing working for them head- ing into Sunday — they are playing a franchise that hasn’t won in Denver since 1975. The Bengals are 0-10 in their last 10 visits to Denver and 2-13 all-time, and the Broncos are 15-3 in their last 18 against the Bengals, regardless of site.
Broncos coach Joseph was on the Bengals’ staff as defen- sive backs coach from 2014-15. ... Broncos defensive tackle Domata Peko was a fourthround draft pick (123rd overall) of the Bengals in 2006 and was with the team through the 2016 season . ... Bengals H-back Ryan Hewitt is from Denver (J.K. Mullen High School) . ... Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar played for the Bengals from 1974-76. ... Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe played at the University of Cincinnati . ... Broncos wide receiver Cody Latim e r is from Dayton (Jefferson Township High School) . ... Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou played at the University of Colorado. ... Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman and cornerback Brad- ley Roby played at Ohio State University . ... Broncos offen- sive line coach Jeff Davidson and linebackers coach Fred Pagac both played at Ohio State. Pagac also coached at Ohio State from 1978-2000.
AFC North Outlook
Baltimore (4-5) at Green Bay on Sunday afternoon: The Ravens come off their bye having lost three of four as they head to Lambeau Field, where they have never won in three visits.
Cleveland (0-9) vs. Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon: The Browns will try to avoid becoming the second team since the merger to start 0-10 in back-to-back seasons (Houston Oilers, 1983-84).
Pittsburgh (7-2) vs. Tennessee (6-3) on Thursday night: The Steelers, who own the No. 1 seed in the AFC and play five of their final seven games at home, are 6-1 in their last seven primetime games at Heinz Field.
Denver’s Brock Osweiler has completed 52 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions.