Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
Analysis: If anyone knows about going 16-0, it is Josh McDaniels. The first-year Broncos head coach was with New England when it ran the table in the regular season in 2007. McDaniels, 33, was much more than a bystander in the Patriots’ historic run. He was the offensive coordinator of the record-breaking unit. So, this isn’t too big for McDaniels. Yes, Denver’s 6-0 start is shocking, but McDaniels has his team playing remarkably well and believing in itself. The Broncos aren’t surprised by their start. They think they can win every game. It is highly unlikely for any team to go 16-0. But the thing about Denver is, it has simply found a way to win every game. It has made the right play at the right time on both sides of the ball. Denver has been spectacular in the second half as it has outscored opponents 76-10. Can the team go 16-0? Probably not. But who thought McDaniels’ outfit would be 6-0 at the bye?
Toughest challenge: The Broncos have several tough challenges, starting with their first two games after the bye. Denver plays at Baltimore on Sunday and then plays host to Pittsburgh on a Monday night. Denver is actually in the middle of a very difficult stretch. When the Broncos started 3-0, many league observers thought they were ready to crash because they were starting a nasty 10-game stretch. Yet, Denver dispatched Dallas, New England and San Diego before the bye. After dates against the Ravens and Steelers, games with San Diego, the Giants and Indianapolis loom. I’d say the toughest tests are going to be against Pittsburgh on Nov. 9 and at the Colts, whose record is also perfect, on Dec. 13. But the thing about the Broncos is, they don’t care who their opponent is, they believe they'll find weaknesses to exploit.
Playoff carryover: If Denver can beat the likes of the Ravens, Steelers and Colts, it probably will go to the playoffs full of confidence. That’s why these upcoming games are so important. Denver has to show the conference (and prove to itself) that it can play with anyone in the AFC. Denver also has to keep winning to try to play as much as possible at home in the postseason. Playing in Denver in January would not be a picnic for anyone.