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Russell Wilson 'never doubted' midseason turnaround for 'resilient' Broncos team

The Denver Broncos are streaking -- through the quad and into the gymnasium.

With Sunday's 29-12 victory over Cleveland, Sean Payton's club has won five straight games, turning a 1-5 start into a 6-5 record to put Denver into contention for an AFC playoff bid.

The quintet of victories didn't come against also-rans, either. Four of the five wins came against teams currently sitting in playoff position (Kansas City, Buffalo, Minnesota, Cleveland), and the fifth was over a Packers team that could inch their way back into the hunt.

Yes, the Broncos have benefited from playing backup signal-callers the past two weeks, but given the quarterback injuries around the league, you can say that about most teams.

After starting the season 0-3, including a 70-20 loss in Miami, the Broncos' turnaround has been remarkable.

"I've never doubted. I've never doubted our football team [and] where we could go," Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson said Sunday, via the team's official transcript. "I think the biggest thing is just understanding that we've lost some close games, and we lost some tough games early but that helps you prepare and understand that it's a long journey. We have a lot more ahead of us -- lots more football. A lot more great teams ahead of us. We have to stay focused on us. The biggest thing that Broncos Country is feeling us as players organizationally, inside that building, and most importantly inside that locker room is a relentless belief in each other. A relentless belief in the coaches and who we are and where we're going -- and what it takes to win. I think that we're starting to learn what it takes to win. That's a good thing in this building and we need that. We have to stay the course there."

Wilson joined Peyton Manning (2012, 2013) as the only Broncos QBs since the 1970 merger to win five consecutive games and have a 90-plus passer rating in each of them, per NFL Research.

The Broncos offense has moved the ball better of late, with Wilson flashing magic that had been absent early in his time in Denver, but it's the defense that has really turned things around.

Vance Joseph's defense has allowed nearly 20 fewer PPG in their last six games compared to their first five, when they allowed an NFL-worst 36.2 PPG (Weeks 1-5). If it holds, that would be the largest improvement in PPG allowed in the first five games of a season compared to the rest of the season in NFL history (19.7 PPG difference), per NFL Research.

Take out the 50-point loss to Miami, and Denver flips a -34 point differential through Week 12 into a +16, comparable to other playoff contenders.

"First of all, we're resilient," Wilson said. "The best part about us is [that] we've been resilient for all of these games. We've played some really great teams. Top-echelon teams. Obviously in the AFC, Kansas City, obviously, Buffalo on the road which is a tough environment. Cleveland has been great all year. It's a great defense and everything else. I think the best thing about us though is it's about us. It's about us being together.

"Our defense has been lights-out. One of the best defenses in the world. Those guys have been unbelievable. Vance Joseph has done a great job with those guys -- getting those guys ready every week and drew some tough challenges. I think that anytime about this game -- about professional sports, there's always adversity and how you handle the adversity really shows who you are and who you can be as a team [and] as a player. We've handled the adversity. The reality is that we have a lot more ball to go. We have to stay humble and hungry. We have a lot more to do. We feel like we're just getting started. We just have to stay the course -- understand that we have to remain neutral and focus on one game at a time. One week at a time. One practice at a time."

With a cluster of teams sitting at six wins in the AFC, the Broncos must keep stacking Ws to complete the improbable turnaround. Given where they were a month ago, it's a stunning U-turn for the Mile High club.

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