Don’t Plan on Playoff Appearances Yet
Just when I thought the Broncos had zero chance of being successful this year, they came back swinging in the pre-season. The Broncos started the meaningless scrimmage matches with two losses by a single point.
But then during their last bout that doesn’t count, the Broncos absolutely dominated. During the final pre-season game of 2023, the Broncs stomped the Los Angeles Rams 41-0.
In fact, the game marked only the second time the team has shutout an opponent by more than 40 points in franchise history. And the good news is, they did it all without starting QB Russell Wilson.
However, the only thing the game may have counted for is the definitive decision on their backup quarterback. Backup former Raider QB Jarrett Stidham produced quite a performance on the field which probably secured him the number two lead spot behind Wilson.
And then especially with their latest meaningless victory, sports commentators have been touting the Broncos potential success. Actually, it seems like ever since Denver picked up veteran, all-star head coach Sean Payton that everyone has been already talking playoffs.
But I tend to caution Bronco fans by telling them- not so fast. Between off-season decisions that were made and the team’s performance during pre-season, I am not too sure if anyone wise should start placing those Super Bowl bets quite yet.
Personally, I have questioned some personnel decisions Payton has already made before the season has even kicked off. First off, I was really sad to see their seasoned kicker Brandon McManus hit the road leaving the power of the Broncos’ kicking team very questionable.
Secondly, I was very disappointed with some of the cuts Payton made just before the roster deadline hit once pre-season ended. Mainly I thought it was a poor decision to ax valuable wide receivers Kendall Hinton and Albert Okwuegbunam especially since Tim Patrick is most likely out for the season and Jerry Jeudy’s prompt return to the field is questionable.
To me, the question remains, who can Wilson rely on to catch the ball? Even if Payton is able to revive the veteran quarterback’s stellar level of play, what will happen if they struggle having solid receivers?
Overall, I think that us Bronco fans can expect the team to improve from last year. But, I don’t think the improvement will be significant enough for the Broncos to make it to the postseason or further.
Here are some early predictions.
Game 1: Broncos Vs. Raiders
The Broncos first game is another I’m not too sure about. Many believe that the team will turn things around and use their excited fans and home field advantage to come out of the match victorious. But I don’t think this will be the case. With all of the changes it seems like the Broncs will be dealing with a pretty new team again and I think it will take more than one game for them to find their rhythm.
Plus, I think everyone is underestimating the Raiders’ new starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The former 49ers QB had a great season last year before he was hurt. I think that the Raiders will start the season with a new found momentum with Jimmy behind center. And to add insult to injury, the Raiders re-signed star running back Josh Jacobs who could also give the Broncos defense some trouble.
Overall (even though I hate to say it), I think the Raiders will come up on top in this one. And I believe the game will prove that Payton and the Broncos still have some kinks to work out.
Game Prediction: Raiders 31, Broncos 24
AFC West Outlook
Last week, I predicted that the Broncos would miss the playoffs and end the season 8-9. The reason I came to this conclusion was mainly due to the fact that the AFC West is going to be a really tough division this season.
I think that the division as a whole will prove to be much better than last year. But they still may only produce one or possibly two playoff teams. I think the Chiefs again will prove to be one of the best in the NFL. They also probably have a good chance at being repeat Super Bowl Champions. The Los Angeles Chargers will also have a stellar team, but they will be right on the edge of earning a post-season spot. With QB Justin Herbert, the team should be a strong force and they will probably split wins against the Broncos.
The Raiders will also be a team to watch, but I don’t have faith in them as playoff contenders. Jimmy G will give the team new momentum, but I don’t think the QB will shine like he did with the stellar 49er offense.
AFC West Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 13-4, Los Angeles Chargers 9-8, Denver Broncos 8-9, Las Vegas Raiders 7-10
Rick Langenberg, TMJ Editor: First Game Outlook — Broncos 31 Raiders 28
Trevor is just way too pessimistic here. There is no way the dark side will win this one. Vegas just has too many skeletons in their closet, and then there is the Josh McDaniels element (his name just sends shivers down the spine of every Bronco fan, in remembrance of his disastrous time here as head coach) and way too much hatred. According to one media outlet, there is not a single Denver Broncos player who has nothing but outright despise for the Raider team.
Division Race: Broncos will miss the playoffs barely, but will end their losing record curse. Broncos will end the season with a 9-8 record and snag the second place spot; however, they won’t make the playoffs. Russell Wilson will improve, but won’t become the mobile Russ that kicked the Broncos in the butt in the Super Bowl that everyone thought was a done deal for the Broncs.
Mike Klis, Channel 9 Insider
Mike, who had former journalistic ties in this area years ago, put his cards on the table in the final preseason game and offered some rare insight. Klis predicted Denver finishing with a record of 10-7 and winning their first wildcard game on the road. He stands fully behind the tight ship coaching style of Sean Payton. (Mike may have attended one too many Sean Payton press conferences, as that view appears overly optimistic.)
Other sports insiders have mixed views, but tend to envision a revived Russell Wilson. The verdict is largely divided on the Broncs’ chances of getting into the playoffs. Most just say fans should enjoy the new stadium and partake in these games at your favorite local sports bar.
Enjoy Sunday’s game.
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