The Broncos' bye week to-do list starts right here

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – It is not the halfway point, but the 6-0 Denver Broncos have sent their players into their bye week. They will return to work with the Green Bay Packers, also 6-0, on the docket.

And while the Broncos are without a loss, they are not without some issues.

The biggest are:

Peyton Manning

Manning leads the league interceptions with 10, the most he’s had in the first six games of a season since his rookie year in 1998. His seven touchdown passes are behind the likes of Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer and Blake Bortles.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has even been asked if he should bench a guy who has thrown 131 touchdown passes in his previous three seasons with the Broncos. The Broncos have won 44 of Manning’s 54 starts, including all six this season, and Kubiak believes that is the most important stat.

Bottom line, though, Manning simply has to stop turning the ball over. If his feet aren’t set, if he doesn’t have room to drive the ball with a full stride, then he needs to have the discipline to ditch it and play the next down. His footwork on his interceptions is decidedly different than on pin-point throws such as the 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown for Emmanuel Sanders Sunday in Cleveland, and at times he's pressing.

Offensive line

They don’t play like they practice, because the group hasn’t practiced together very often. Over the last three weeks, including Tuesday’s practice to close out their on-field work this week, the current starting offensive line has practiced together a total of two days.

It’s no wonder they look disjointed as times. Guard Evan Mathis (hamstring) played against the Browns this past Sunday, but hasn’t taken part in a full practice since the Broncos played in Oakland the week before the Cleveland trip.

Left tackle Ty Sambrailo has also missed three games with a shoulder injury and guard Louis Vasquez has dealt with a troublesome knee. The practice uncertainty has carried over into games, and the Broncos won’t find continuity on Sunday until they see some through the week.

New No. 1 at RB

It took six games, but Ronnie Hillman has essentially run himself to the top of the depth chart.

The Broncos haven’t had a bevy of big plays in the run game, but all four of the team’s rushing attempts of at least 15 yards have been by Hillman. Hillman also has the team’s only touchdown run of at least 10 yards -- his 72-yarder against the Minnesota Vikings.

In the first six games, C.J. Anderson played 74 more snaps than Hillman did. Don't expect that to continue after the bye. The Broncos need far more in the run game than 3.6 yards per carry and 33 rushing attempts for no gain or negative yardage. Hillman will likely be the guy with the most opportunities to change that.

How long can the defense hold up?

The Broncos have six wins with an average winning margin of 6.17 points. The team’s defense has scored four touchdowns and leads the league in sacks as well as takeaways. And the Broncos have won all six games despite leading in games just 53.4 percent of the time and in two of the wins -- Week 2 at Kansas City and Week 5 in Oakland -- the Broncos held the lead less than 45 percent of the game. They led just .8 percent of the Kansas City game.

So, some wonder how long can the defense can keep up that pace.

“As long as it takes," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “We want that, we’ll be there until our offense gets clicking ... we want to be one of the best defenses ever."

A good start

The Broncos have opened a season 6-0 four times since 1990 and advanced to Super Bowl in three of those years, including 2013. But the Broncos have seen good starts evaporate too. Since ’90, the Broncos have started 4-2 or better over their first six games 14 times and gone on to miss the playoffs in five of those years.

That total includes 2009, when a 6-0 start turned into an 8-8 finish.

“We don’t think we’re going to fall apart," said safety David Bruton Jr., the only player on the current Broncos roster who played on the ’09 team. “We have a bunch of hungry guys, guys who want to make plays, guys who want to get better week-in and week-out. I don't see that happening.”