Those in the know in the NFL saw the Denver Broncos falling apart in 2016 from a mile away. Gary Kubiak really lost control of this team a year after winning the Super Bowl, and it all started with some horrible quarterback play. The defense was absolutely still one of the best in the NFL, and that unit really took issue with the lacking offense. There were reports of infighting in the locker room, and that showed on the field at the end of the year.
With Kubiak out of the picture, the Broncos will have a chance at a new start in 2017. That said, this team still doesn’t have its quarterback quandary figured out. If neither Trevor Siemian nor Paxton Lynch truly evolve as top-flight quarterbacks, this could be another long year in Mile High.
Why The Broncos Will Overachieve In 2017
It’s not like Siemian was terrible last season. He threw for 3,401 yards and 18 touchdowns in his 14 starts. Both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were 1,000-plus yard receivers. Let’s also not forget that this was a team that won nine games, too.
Thus, the definition of overachieving could be a bit looser in the Rockies than most locales across the country. Siemian doesn’t do much more than he did last year, but his 25 touchdowns are just enough to get this offense up to the level of respectability.
The real difference, though, is the addition of Vance Joseph as the team’s head coach. He has a calming influence on this team, squashing any potential locker room mishaps that might occur after the seemingly inevitable 13-6 loss that comes somewhere along the way.
The schedule turns out to be tougher than you’d think for a third-place team, but a road win at Arrowhead in Week 8 is what galvanizes the club after a relatively slow start. An upset at home of the Patriots two weeks later formally turns the tide once and for all, and the Broncos pull the opposite stunt they did last year and finish by winning seven of their last eight games to win the AFC West.
Why The Broncos Will Underachieve In 2017
This turns out to be one of the scariest teams in the NFL to bank on in our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests early in the season. Those first two home games against the Chargers and Cowboys are both lost, and it already feels as though Siemian has lost control of the club.
What’s worse this year? Demarcus Ware isn’t around to harass quarterbacks. The fact that he retired in the offseason leaves a gaping hole that Shane Ray isn’t ready to fill off the edge on a full-time basis. Age starts to catch up to Aqib Talib and Chris Harris by the middle of the season.
After going into the bye week at 1-3, the Broncos come out by scoring four touchdowns against the Giants—only to give up six scores with Talib and Harris getting toasted time and time again by Odell Beckham Jr. and former Bronco Brandon Marshall.
You think there was mutiny in Denver before? Imagine how bad it might be after that happens. That loss to the G-Men starts a downward spiral that can’t be recovered from. The Broncos lose to the Chargers, Chiefs and Eagles on the road in succession, then get embarrassed by the Patriots at home. For all intents and purposes, the season is over at that point.
Lynch turns out to be far from the savior of this franchise after throwing 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions while playing half the season as the starter. The only good news from all of this? The Broncos end up with a top 5 selection in the 2018 NFL Draft and will have a chance to draft the next John Elway.
2017 Denver Broncos Schedule
Week 1: vs. Chargers
Week 2: vs. Cowboys
Week 3: at Bills
Week 4: vs. Raiders
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: vs. Giants
Week 7: at Chargers
Week 8: at Chiefs
Week 9: at Eagles
Week 10: vs. Patriots
Week 11: vs. Bengals
Week 12: at Raiders
Week 13: at Dolphins
Week 14: vs. Jets
Week 15: at Colts
Week 16: at Redskins
Week 17: vs. Chiefs
Broncos Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 15 at Colts
Von Miller single-handedly wrecked the Colts last season. He had three sacks and was flat out unable to be blocked. Indianapolis hasn’t done anything to upgrade its offensive line this year. Anthony Castanzo had a decent year at left tackle last season, but this wasn’t his best game. He’ll have nightmares coming into this one. If the Colts are going to try to throw the ball 40-plus times again versus the Broncos, this is a recipe for disaster.
Broncos Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 7 at Chiefs
The Broncos have historically been very good at Arrowhead Stadium; they had won five in a row and covered four of the last five spreads before last season’s 33-10 shellacking on Christmas night. Denver thought that it solved its offensive line woes at left tackle by bringing in Donald Stephenson. As in, former Chief Donald Stephenson. As in, former Chief who couldn’t figure out how to even get a hand on Miller to save his life Donald Stephenson. As in, former Chief who couldn’t figure out how to block Tamba Hali or Justin Houston in his return to Arrowhead last year. That Donald Stephenson. How well do you think that Donald Stephenson is going to fare in his second trip back home? We’re guessing not very well.