The Super Bowl 50 hangover for the Broncos was mad real. Despite another dominant season from a defense led by Von Miller and the No Fly Zone secondary, the Broncos missed the playoffs in 2016 for the first time in five seasons.
Will Denver be back to the playoffs in 2017? Or will a QB competition that has failed to produce much optimism and the adjustment to new coach Vance Joseph lead to another unbalanced season in the Mile High City? Here's what our projections say.
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|Projected wins||In playoffs||Win division||Conference||Super Bowl|
SportsLine projects the Broncos to be around .500 one year after a nine-win 2016, and the system is taking a conservative view of the Super Bowl 50 champions returning to the playoffs after a year off. With the coaching staff overhauled during the offseason, expecting this team to be Super Bowl contenders may be asking too much.
|Win total||Playoffs||Division||Conference||Super Bowl|
|8 (U -125)||+210||+425||20/1||40/1|
All odds via Westgate.
Bettors are leaning toward the Under as well, expecting the Broncos to fail to put together a winning record for the first time since 2011. If the Broncos fall short of 8-8, it'd be just the third time since 1999 they didn't finish .500 or better. The Broncos represent a slight value play to make the playoffs based on the projections above.
Sean Wagner-McGough defends his prediction of the Broncos making the playofs:
Quarterback remains a concern in Denver, but the Broncos' defense is too good to dismiss. They already dragged their team to the Super Bowl without a quarterback two years ago, and they went 9-7 last year -- just missing out on the playoffs -- despite starting Trevor Siemian for most of the season and Paxton Lynch briefly.
The bad news is that the Broncos are going to be playing the same quarterbacks in 2017. The good news is that there'e no way they can be any worse than they were last year when they combined to throw just 20 touchdowns. Lynch was a first-round pick for a reason, so it's not unreasonable to expect him to be a slight upgrade over Siemian now that he's had a year to develop. And then there's that defense, which is arguably the best in all of football. They were first in DVOA last year.
It's true that the AFC West is a tough division, but the Chiefs' receiving corps is going to be a real weakness without Jeremy Maclin, the Chargers might be without their top two draft picks and are relying on Keenan Allen to recover completely from a torn ACL, and the Raiders are bound to regress after a 12-4 season that included nine wins in one-score games. I think the Broncos have a shot at emerging as the winners in the division simply because their defense is far and away superior.