ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A lot has happened since the last trip the Broncos made to San Diego. They were 2-3 when they arrived to Qualcomm Stadium last Oct. 7 and they trailed the Chargers 24-0 at halftime with Philip Rivers having thrown two touchdown passes in the first two quarters of play.
But a 35-point second half sent the Broncos on a run that is, in many ways, still going. After some numbers crunching and with a huge nod to the fine folks at the ESPN Stats & Information, here are some numbers of note as the Broncos prepare to return to San Diego this Sunday:
Since that historical comeback the Broncos are 18-1 in regular-season games and lead the league over that span in points per game (36.3) and yards per game (429.2).
Peyton Manning has gone away from the Broncos' top three wide receivers over the past two games. In the Broncos first six games, 78 percent of Manning’s completions went to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. In the last two games -- a loss to the Colts and a win over the Redskins -- defensive backs have been far more aggressive in how they defended the three and the frustration has shown as the timing of the Broncos offense has been affected. As a result Manning has looked elsewhere in the formation. In the past two games 58.1 percent of Manning’s completions have gone to the three and three of Manning’s last four interceptions have occurred on plays in which Thomas was the intended target.
The Broncos have 17 turnovers at the halfway point and that puts them in some struggling company to be sure. Only the Giants (2-6) and Cardinals (4-4) have more with 25 and 18 turnovers, respectively. The Jets (5-4), Vikings (1-7), Bengals (6-3) and Steelers (2-6) also have 17 this season. The Broncos’ total has been a result of their inability to hang on to the ball at times with 11 lost fumbles, which leads the league, including four by Manning and two by rookie running back Montee Ball. The Broncos have also had three turnovers in three consecutive games.
The Broncos are currently allowing 27.3 points per game. That has almost never been a profile of a playoff team. The only team to make the postseason having allowed at least that many points per game was the St. Louis Rams in 2000. The Rams, who lost in the NFC wild-card game, allowed 29.4 points per game.
To be the league’s first 600-point team in a season, the Broncos would have to average 32.1 points per game over their final eight games. But things routinely get tighter in the season’s second half, even for the most proficient of offenses. The highest-scoring team in league history -- the 2007 New England Patriots, with 589 points -- scored at least 31 points just four times over their final eight games of that regular season. The Patriots had scored at least 31 points in all eight games in the season’s first half.
With a win Sunday the Broncos will have their seventh consecutive divisional road victory. That would set a new franchise record. They are currently tied, at six, with a streak set over the 1976 and 1977 seasons.