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Broncos takeaways from victory over Bengals

Three-piece suit. Broncos look like contender
Posted: 1:03 PM, Dec 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-03 20:19:21Z

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The math makes sense. The numbers, too often crooked for the first two months, add up. The Broncos are playoff contenders entering the season's stretch run. 

With one month remaining, Denver sits at 6-6 , leaving them one game behind Baltimore for the final wild card spot. 

The Ravens face the Chiefs this week. The Broncos travel to San Francisco. The pair could be tied a week from today. And if Pittsburgh keeps fizzling, the Broncos could be racing to pass them instead of the Ravens. Regardless, Denver has a chance, something hard to fathom when the bye week hit. The Broncos owned a 3-6 record. Only four teams have reached the postseason with that start, including Washington in 2012. The Broncos might have to win out to reach their goal, but the schedule provides a chance with remaining games against the 49ers, Browns, Raiders and Chargers. It won't be easy with the Dolphins, Colts and Titans also 6-6. 

The Broncos are cooking with grease, owners of a three-game winning streak. A look back at my Denver7 takeaways after the most recent victory:

Phil it Up

Creating goosebumps requires star performances. Phillip Lindsay is an elite player this season with no qualifiers. Not as a rookie. Not as an undrafted guy. He's elite. Period. He turned Sunday's game on its head with a 65-yard touchdown run that illustrated how he's improved since college. Healthier and stronger at 190 pounds, Lindsay reaches the edge with ease and can outrun defenders with 4.3 40 speed. Gradually increasing his carries remains critical over the final month. He is averaging 14.9 touches per game. That number must inflate to 19. 

Secure the ball

Quarterback Case Keenum played the role of a game manager Sunday. It is methodical and boring at times, but he recognizes if he protects the ball the Broncos can secure wins. Keenum has six touchdowns and one interception over his last five games. That is a winning formula.

Take, Take, Take

Keenum's output works because the Broncos are playing complementary football. Over the last three games, the Broncos own five picks, while holding opponents to 16.3 points per game. And Keenum has shown the ability to produce the big strike. He boasts 19 completions of 30-plus yards, including Sunday's touchdown to Courtland Sutton, ranking fifth best. 

Sack attack

Von Miller and Bradley Chubb remain a deadly duo. They have collected 22.5 sacks, more than the Dolphins, Patriots, Giants and Raiders. Miller netted 1.5 against Cincinnati, and Chubb sealed the win with a strip sack. Not only are they getting to the quarterback, they are doing damage when they arrive.

X-Factors

When teams go on runs, unlikely contributors emerge. For the Broncos, few players have been better the past two weeks than defensive lineman Shelby Harris. He sealed the Pittsburgh game with a pick, and collected 1.5 sacks on Sunday. His inside rush makes the Broncos more versatile and dangerous. 

Young and Not Restless

The Broncos injuries continue to mount. Star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. remains optimistic about the chip fracture in right fibula. He told Denver7 Monday morning that no MRI was necessary. The timeline for this injury remains four weeks, "but I think it will be 3 weeks," Harris told me. I would never doubt him. As in ever. With Harris out, rookie Isaac Yiadom played his best game. The Broncos might not require a roster move at corner if Tramaine Brock (ribs) is ready. 

Special Stuff

The Broncos lost games last year with their special teams. They are winning them this season. Punter Colby Wadman has become a weapon, and coach Tom McMahon has dramatically improved the coverage units led by players like Joe Jones. 


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook , Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page . Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com .