Von Miller's departure didn't have any negative effect on the psyche of the Denver Broncos' defense last Sunday. The unit embraced the change, and unexpectedly locked down the Dallas Cowboys' high-powered offense in a 30-16 upset win at AT&T Stadium.
Denver's season has been a conundrum. They started the campaign 3-0 by defeating inferior opponents, but then looked overwhelmed in four straight losses to playoff-caliber teams. With their emphatic win over the Cowboys, the Broncos improved to 5-4 overall. So, are they a contender or pretender?
"Right now, I think they're probably a nine-win team," former NFL receiver and current Denver radio host Brandon Stokley told the Tiki and Tierney show on Wednesday. "Now, which Denver Broncos are we going to see? Are we going to see the Broncos of last week, or the Broncos from a few weeks ago, when the Raiders came to town with a new coach, distractions everywhere, and just embarrassed the Broncos at home?
"That's the key here, which team is going to show up. If that one shows up on Sunday, they'll be a 10 or 11-win team. Kansas City isn't the Kansas City that we know. The Chargers are a good team, but gettable. And the Raiders are the Raiders. This division is wide open, and everything they want is still right out in front of them."
The Broncos' defense suffocated the Cowboys, holding them scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter. At halftime, Dak Prescott had completed just 5 of 14 passes for 75 yards, and his quarterback rating was a scant 54.2. Dallas earned just 14 first downs and totaled 290 yards of offense -- shocking numbers, considering that they entered Week 9 averaging 32.1 points.
Stout defense was the story behind the Broncos' win, but their offense also stepped up and delivered a playoff-caliber performance. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 249 yards and a touchdown, rookie running back Javonte Williams rushed for 111 yards on 17 attempts, and the offense scored 30 points for the first time this season.
Denver (5-4) will host the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) in a Week 10 matchup on Sunday. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Broncos currently have a 39-percent chance to reach the playoffs and a 14-percent chance to win the AFC West.
The entire Broncos conversation between Stokley and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.