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Rest of league could be catching up with Broncos

The easy explanation for the recent struggles of the Denver Broncos is that the hottest team through the first seven weeks of the 2009 season ran into the two AFC finalists from 2008.

The other -- and more troubling -- possibility arises from the possibility that enough film has been generated of the new-look Broncos’ strategies and tendencies to allow other teams to figure out how to beat them, and that the Broncos have not yet properly responded.

For now, the Broncos are opting for the notion that they played a really good team on Monday night.

They outplayed us,” defensive end Kenny Peterson said, per the Denver Post. “There’s a reason why they’re Super Bowl champs.”

“Certainly a very well-coached football team,” coach Josh McDaniels added. “Ultimately, they took over the game in the second half.”

Regardless of whether the outcome says more about the Steelers than it does about the Broncos, that 6-0 record has lost plenty of luster with two straight losses, especially with the Chargers now perched at 5-3.

Having San Diego on their heels might actually be a good thing. Without having to worry about being caught by a team they supposedly had put away on October 19, the Broncos might spend too much time thinking about the reality that they’re not yet ready to compete with the truly best teams in the conference.

For now, they need to find out whether they can compete with one of the worst teams in the other conference. In five days, they go back to Maryland to face the Redskins. A win would take away some of the wobble as the Broncos prepare for a rematch with the Chargers.

A loss would be devastating, to say the least.