We all remember the Denver Broncos’ last playoff appearance, 2015 Super Bowl champions, and Peyton Manning’s last year. It’s hard to believe it has been six years, and Peyton is now in the NFL Hall of Fame. What’s even hard to imagine is that dominant defense made it to no more playoff games.
It’s not hard to understand why Denver hasn’t been a good team. Even in the Super Bowl year, the offense wasn’t great. It’s hard to win games when your defense is ranked in the low twenties every year.
Now (after six years), it looks like Denver might have a shoot for the playoffs. We will discuss some of the failures and changes to the team, and of course, a preview to the regular season. In the end, I will predict their record and post-season success.
Before 2020, the Denver Broncos were in a place of annual losing seasons. In 2019, Drew Lock won them 3 out of 4 games in December, and the Broncos’ fans had hope. Instead, the Broncos were a disappointing 5-11.
A major reason for the decline is injuries to the defense. In 2019 the defense was ranked 10th best in the NFL. In 2020 players started catching the injury bug, and the defense fell to 25th. The offense was terrible both seasons, 28th in the NFL.
The Broncos were up with the 49ers with injuries on the team. The 2020 season will always be a mystery for Broncos fans because the potential was squashed before the first game. I believe they were a wild card team before Von Miller and company got injured.
That was just injuries. Let’s not even get started about the game against the Saints. When Denver had to play a practice squad wide receiver as a quarterback. Ugliest game in Broncos and Saints history.
The first thing to note is Denver moved the previous GM John Elway to more of an executive role for the team. The new GM is George Paxton. It was about time that Denver moved on from Elway as a GM because he had six losing seasons in a row.
Next, Denver lost Philip Linsdey but still have Melvin Gordon (who had the better season last year). Denver will have about the same running offense success. They also traded for Teddy Bridgewater, who will be the week one starter.
His (Bridgewater) whole career, he has played safe, and that is something Denver needs to improve. Denver has had a lot of turnovers in the last couple of seasons. Also, Jerry Jeudy should make a jump in his play, and Courtland Sutton will be healthy.
The passing offense should be better. For the defense, a lot of the players are healthy, and Von Miller is coming back. We should see Denver get a dominant defense once again and a pretty good pass rush.
Denver will have one of the best secondaries with Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Steven Jackson, and Justin Simmions. Also, the first-round pick of Patrick Surtain II will help solidify this defense.
If the Broncos stay healthy and their offense can stay on the field, they will be a playoff team in 2021. They won’t be a team that has a bye but will play as a wild card. For the record, expect a 10-7 season.
Their team as a whole has improved since 2020, with a top-class secondary and a solid pass rush. It will be hard to score on the Broncos. The 2021 defense will be a top-five unit in the NFL (I’m calling it).
The offense is a different story. They’ll improve, but I still see them ranking in the high twenties as a floor and being mediocre as the ceiling. Denver will live and die with this defense.
Don’t expect a division win or a deep playoff run because they need to improve this offense. However, with this defense and no injuries, the Broncos will be a playoff team. It will be fun to see this young team start to put things together.
Denver will finish as a 6/7 seed in the AFC playoffs, and they will lose in the first round. They need to prove their offense can score and not turn the ball over before I can see a playoff run.