ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With a tip of the hat to the fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information, here are some notable numbers as the Denver Broncos head into Week 7:
The Broncos (6-0) have won 17 regular-season games in a row, a streak many fans in the Rocky Mountain region aren't all that excited about given last January's loss to the Ravens. But it is a noteworthy streak that is tied for fourth-longest in league history.
Should the Broncos make it to 7-0 Sunday night in Indianapolis, history says they are a playoff team. According to Elias Sports Bureau, of the 31 teams in the Super Bowl era to start a season 7-0, all made the playoffs; 15 of the 31 played in the Super Bowl; and nine of the 31 (29 percent) won the title game.
There have been more close games after six weeks than in any other season at this point in the league's history. In fact, 65 of 92 games played (70.7 percent) have been within seven or fewer points at some point in the fourth quarter. The Broncos? Well, they have contributed all of one game to that effort, when they trailed 38-33 in Dallas, heading into the fourth quarter. They have led the remainder of their games by at least nine points heading into the fourth.
The Broncos' Peyton Manning and the Colts' Andrew Luck are two of the four quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall in the draft by the Colts. The Broncos have one of the others at their Dove Valley complex as well -- executive VP of football operations John Elway (1983). Jeff George was the fourth (1990). The Colts are the only franchise to have selected four quarterbacks No. 1 overall since the common draft era began in 1967.
It's worth noting, given his historical numbers over the season's first six games, how defenses have allowed Manning to stand tall and pick away at them, fearing his ability to carve up their blitz packages. But overall he has faced four or fewer pass rushers on 77 percent of his dropbacks this season. Last Sunday, the Jaguars rushed more than four at Manning on just one snap in the game. And on the other side of the pressure coin, Manning has also not been sacked on any snap this season when the defense rushed five or more players at him.
Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker leads the NFL with eight touchdown catches. That's already tied for the second-highest season total of his career and just one back of his career-best nine touchdown catches in 2011.
What can linebacker Von Miller's return mean to the Broncos? Well, they hope it makes the defense better on third down, as Miller has done over his first two seasons. Since the start of the 2011 season, opposing offenses have converted 31 percent of third-down plays when Miller is on the field, and 41 percent when he is not. Also opposing quarterbacks have completed 48.9 percent of third-down passes when Miller's in the game, 57 percent of third-down passes when he is not.