Last Updated: 2019-06-10
The Denver Broncos finished the last season at the 3rd spot of the AFC West with a 6-10 record, missing the playoffs for the third straight year. It was another big disappointment for the three-time Super Bowl winners, so the Broncos decided to make some big changes in order to find their way back into the postseason.
The Broncos started 2018 with two straight wins at home over Seattle and Oakland, and just when the fans thought it could be their year, Denver lost four contests in a row. However, the Broncos entered December with a 24-10 victory at Cincinnati to improve to 6-6, but they dropped the last four games of the season including a tough 27-14 loss at the hapless Raiders in Week 16.
Since Peyton Manning’s retirement in 2015, the Broncos have struggled to find the right guy to lead their offense. Last year, the Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year contract worth $36 million, but the former Minnesota Vikings QB turned out to be a bust. Keenum started in all 16 games, throwing for 3890 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions, so John Elway decided to make another change and bring a new guy to Mile High Stadium.
Super Bowl Odds: +6600
Odds to Win the AFC: +3300
Odds to Win the AFC West: +1200
Season Win Total: 7.5
(lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
||@ Oakland (MNF)
||@ Green Bay
||@ LA Chargers
||Kansas City (TNF)
||@ Kansas City
Total Expected Wins: 6.77
The Broncos decided to move on from Case Keenum, trading him to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a sixth-round pick in a 2020 Draft. They acquired Joe Flacco from the Ravens in exchange for a fourth-round pick at 2019 Draft, and the Broncos hope Flacco’s experience could turn the things around.
Denver strengthened its defense with CB Kareem Jackson who spent eight years with the Houston Texans. Another CB Bryce Callahan arrived from Chicago, while Ja’Wuan James will be a solid addition to Broncos’ offensive line.
The Broncos also have a new head coach, hiring Vic Fangio who spent the previous four years as the Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator. Rich Scangarello is the new offensive coordinator after coaching quarterbacks for the 49ers in the last two years, while Ed Donatell came with Fangio from Chicago to take a job of a defensive coordinator.
With the 20th overall pick at the 2019 NFL Draft, the Broncos picked tight end Noah Fant. Iowa product had 39 receptions for 519 yards and seven touchdowns in his junior season. Denver drafted OT Dalton Risner from Kansas State as a second-round 9th pick, while QB Drew Lock, who came as a second-round 10th pick from Missouri, could be a future star.
Lock led the Missouri Tigers for four years and was quite productive in the previous two seasons. Last year, Lock completed 62.9% of his passes for 3498 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions, while he was exceptional in 2017 with 3964 yards, 44 touchdowns, and 13 picks, averaging 9.5 passing yards per attempt.
The Broncos also drafted DT Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State, OLB Justin Hollins from Oregon, and Juwann Winfree from Colorado.
Probably the only good thing from the previous season is the find of a 24-year old running back Phillip Lindsay. The undrafted rookie had a wonderful year, tallying 1278 yards from scrimmage and ten touchdowns. He became the first-ever undrafted offensive rookie to make to the Pro Bowl, and Lindsay should be a huge force of the backfield this season.
Joe Flacco will drive the Broncos offense, and the one-time Super Bowl champ with Baltimore should be a great mentor to Drew Lock. Flacco played nine games last season, tossing for 2465 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 61.2% of his passes. He can count on a solid offensive line, but the Broncos’ young and inexperienced receiving corps could be a big issue.
DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton both enter their second NFL season, but they need to step up and find the right chemistry with Flacco. Sutton had 42 catches for 704 yards and four touchdowns last season, while Hamilton added 30 receptions for 243 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
The Broncos will rely on Phillip Lindsay a lot, for sure, and they were averaging 119.2 rushing yards per game last season (12th in the league). Still, the Broncos converted just 33.3% of their 3rd downs, so they hope Joe Flacco will make a difference this time.
The Broncos were one of the best defensive teams in the league over the last ten years. Thanks to their tough defense, the Broncos won Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2015. Hiring Vic Fangio as a new head coach shows they want to restore that dominant D. The Broncos were surrendering 21.8 points per game last season (tied-12th in the league) on 365.1 total yards (22nd in the league), so they have to improve a lot if they want to make it to the playoffs.
They possess talent with Von Miller onwards and should do a much better job this term. Miller is still one of the best linebackers in the league, and a three-time All-Pro had 14.5 sacks last season along with 48 tackles, four forced fumbles, and an interception. Von didn’t miss a single game over the last five years, hoping to stay healthy through 2019. The Broncos expect a lot from Bradley Chubb who recorded 12 sacks in his rookie season along with 14 tackles for loss. Miller and Chubb will lead this Denver defense, while Kareem Jackson should help the Broncos’ secondary to improve.
Notes & Nuggets
Vic Fangio will certainly need some time to pick up the pieces, and the strength of schedule won’t help at all. The Broncos are playing in arguably the toughest division in the NFL and will have a bunch of very difficult non-divisional matchups including the home meetings with Chicago, Cleveland, and Tennessee. Also, after a bye week, the Broncos will have five straight outings as underdogs, and four of those five games will come on the road.
If you are a Broncos fan, don’t expect miracles. Denver will have a mountain to climb to stay in the playoff race, considering the strength of their rivals. Still, keep eyes on the Broncos if you like to bet on the totals, as their defense should help the majority of games to finish in the under.
Also, take the Broncos in the under on their season win total. It would be a big surprise if they surpass the last season’s record by two wins. The Broncos’ defense can make a lot of damage, but their offense will be a problem. I think they will battle with the Raiders to avoid the bottom of the AFC West.
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