THREE NUMBERS

Is the turnover touch of the Denver Broncos sustainable?

Nov 27, 2023, 10:28 PM | Updated: 10:37 pm

Regarding the Denver Broncos and their turnover touch, one question continues arising: Is it sustainable?

Statistically speaking, the answer is “no.”

Consider this: The Broncos have 5 games so far this season in which they notched a turnover margin of plus-2 or better. In the past decade, only four teams — most recently the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — had more plus-2 games in their first 11 contests.

And while plenty of teams have had runs of four-straight games with that kind of margin in a single season — the Broncos are the 52nd team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to do this — getting to five-straight games is another matter entirely. Only 16 teams pulled this off — most recently the 2017 Buffalo Bills.

How did they get there?

You can start charting the path by noting the Denver Broncos’ good fortune on fumbles.

10

Fumble recoveries by the Broncos in the last four games.

That tally is the highest for any NFL team in 16 years.

But if you’re looking for a sign that these Broncos could be in line for big things, note this: Four of the previous five teams to recover at least 10 fumbles in a four-game span made the postseason — and three of them — the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, 1999 Tennessee Titans and 1998 Atlanta Falcons — made it all the way to the Super Bowl.

Two-thirds of the Broncos’ takeaways in the last four games have come via fumble recoveries — 10 of 15.

“Relative to the difference from that early part of the season start to where we’re at now — I think [No. 1] is defending the run and then the turnover ratio is dramatically different,” Payton said. “I would guess it’s first in the league since that 1-5 start.”

Indeed …

Plus-13

That is the Broncos’ turnover margin during their five-game winning streak. It is the best in the league by a gulf; the next-closest team, the New York Giants, has a plus-8 giveaway/takeaway margin.

This is the best 5-game turnover margin for any team since the Buffalo Bills had a plus-13 margin during the 2021 season, from Sept. 26 through Oct. 31 of that year. It is also the best in Broncos history in 39 years, since the 1984 Broncos had a plus-15 turnover margin encompassing games from Oct. 21 through Nov. 18 of that year.

As is the case this year, the Broncos won all five of those games in 1984.

74.5

Percentage of teams since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger who had four consecutive games with a plus-2 turnover margin that eventually made the playoffs.

The Denver Broncos are the 52nd team in the 54 post-merger seasons to have a streak like this — and the 12th since the 2010 season. Ten of the previous 11 made the postseason; only the 2016 Minnesota Vikings failed to do so, finishing out of the postseason at 8-8.

Significantly, just 7.8 percent — 4 of 51 — of the teams that posted four consecutive games with a plus-2 turnover margin — finished with losing seasons. Only one of the last 24 teams with that run of games failed to reach .500.

This run won’t last forever. But there is an excellent chance it can provide enough momentum to enable a playoff appearance — and an end to the Broncos’ six-year run of losing seasons.

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