ENGLEWOOD — "Sleepless in Seattle" became a hit in 1993. "Winless in Denver" has been panned in 2019.
For three decades, the Broncos' brushes with history came with notable distinctions: division titles, Super Bowl appearances, Super Bowl victories, and a battery of Hall of Famers from John Elway to Shannon Sharpe to Terrell Davis and Champ Bailey.
History now mocks the Broncos. They need a win Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers to avoid their first-ever 0-5 start. The Broncos are also saddled with an eight-game losing skid dating to last season. The worst in-season slump, in case you are wondering, came from the 1967 Broncos who dropped nine in a row after winning their opener. One Las Vegas better at the South Point Casino and Spa believes in the Broncos, placing a $70,000 bet to win $133,636.35.
What does this person know? Please illuminate. Anyway, my Denver7 keys to victory:
Run this way
The Broncos pulled off the upset a year ago by relying on a ground attack that produced three touchdowns. Denver wants to sponge the clock – by design to protect its own defense even as I would like some uptempo sprinkled in – and grind it out. Reach 120 yards on the ground, and the drought ends.
Take it away
The ideal flight home? The Broncos win and are jamming Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” on the charter. Denver doesn’t have a takeaway. Quarterback Philip Rivers gives the defense two-to-three chances a game for a pick. A Chris Harris interception while guarding star receiver Keenan Allen could prove the difference.
The Broncos notched five sacks – their first of the season – and two fines for hits on the quarterback last Sunday. The Broncos showed urgency in getting home. With the Chargers focusing on Von Miler with Bradley Chubb (left knee) lost for the season, undrafted rookie Malik Reed and a few secondary blitzes hold the key to getting Rivers on the ground.
Protect the ball
The Broncos played well at Green Bay. They really did. But they aren’t good enough to overcome turnovers, especially a pair inside their own 32-yard line. Take care of the ball, and take a few chances down field. You’ve heard it before.
Stop the run
This probably should be the first point. The Broncos rank 30th in rush defense. Leonard Fournette embarrassed them last week. It doesn’t get any easier against Melvin Gordon, making his season debut, and former Eaton High star Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is a weapon in the screen game and excels at breaking ankles in space.
Tackle and bait
Missed tackles doomed Denver last week. That’s part of why safety Will Parks’ role will likely be diminished with the return of Kareem Jackson to safety and Duke Dawson showing promise at corner. Again, the Broncos operate with no margin for error. They can no longer have fundamental breakdowns.
Lean on the stars
The Broncos lack depth. It’s no secret. To win for the first time since Dec. 2, Denver's stars must shine. That means impressive stat lines from Von Miller, Chris Miller, Kareem Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay. Truth is, I believe Broncos will play well, but I am not picking them to win on the road until they win on the road. Would love for them to prove me wrong this week.
RENCK PREDICTION: Chargers 23, Broncos 17.