Broncos Roundtable: Final season predictions

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 14, 2020

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos are back. Finally.

On Monday night, in front of the entire country, the Broncos will begin their quest for their fourth Lombardi Trophy against the Tennessee Titans.

Thanks to Drew Lock, a young up-and-coming offense and a Vic Fangio-led defense, hope is high in the Mile High City for the 2020 squad. But just how close will the Denver make it to earning their fourth Lombardi Trophy?

The DNVR Broncos Crew, plus a few special guests, gives their take on how Denver’s season will unfold.

WHAT WILL THE BRONCOS’ RECORD BE?

Zac

8-8 — Before the devastating injury to Von Miller, I had the 2020 Broncos making the playoffs. But losing the team’s highest-paid player hurts. A lot.

The formula for the Broncos was to have an elite defense carry a young and talented offense for the first part of the season. Now, while the defense can still be great, it’s not going to be elite without their eight-time Pro Bowler. That will make it much more difficult for the defense to carry the offense for multiple games at the start of the season.

Saying that the team will start slow — don’t be surprised by an 0-3 start — but will pick up down the stretch where the team will end the season on a heater. By the end of the season, it will be clear the Broncos will no longer be relying on their defense to win games and the future will be incredibly bright thanks to Drew Lock and ultra-talented offense.

If Von didn’t get hurt, the Broncos would be riding into the playoffs on a hot streak. Instead, they’ll be riding into 2021 full of hope.

Mase

9-7, No. 7 seed in the AFC — It could look bleak early in the season if the Broncos can’t beat Tennessee on Monday night. And, yes, the seventh seed may result in a ticket to Kansas City or Baltimore on the second weekend of January. But this would still be the best season for the Broncos since Peyton Manning’s retirement, and a necessary step forward. The defense should still be above average, even without Miller — if it can get Bradley Chubb back to full speed at some point.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur should be able to adapt his tactics to keep Drew Lock upright and healthy. Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler will provide a speed infusion to the offense when they find their footing. If the Broncos are at 6-6 after their Week 13 trip to Kansas City, their offense will be well-positioned for a final-quarter sprint that extends their season by one week. But the Broncos could spend this season walking a tightrope; any misstep could send them tumbling into the 8-8 or 7-9 purgatory that would leave some seats sizzling in 2021.

Ryan

9-7 — Unfortunately, for the first time, my record prediction is trending the wrong way as we get closer to the season. The combination of the injury to Von Miller and the poor performance by the offensive line, specifically the tackles, in training camp, has me cooling my jets a little bit. Add in the uncertainty surrounding Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler and the shocking cut of Todd Davis and this just simply isn’t the same team it was when the schedule came out.

With all of that said, I’m still bullish on the prospects of Drew Lock this season, and he is the main reason why I still have this team above .500 this season.

It’s not going to be pretty at times, but this team has what it takes to beat the teams it should beat and pull off a couple upsets along the way. Regardless of their record, this will be the most fun Broncos team in years.

Andre

9-7, No. 6 seed in the AFC — In projecting the 2020 Broncos I leaned heavily on a tried and true metric as EW.

The metric showed a drastic difference in the teams’ performance in 2019 prior to Drew Lock starting at quarterback and after. Without Lock, the Broncos performed at the level of a 7.5 win team, while with the rookie QB their performance was at the level of a 9.5 win squad.

Now, the roster at the end of 2019 was nowhere close to as talented as the current roster is, even with the monumental loss of Von Miller. Meaning that with some injury luck at depth depleted positions like edge rusher, on the offensive line, linebacker, and cornerback —a big ask in this crazy season—Denver can maintain the standard they were at in the final five games of 2019. Doing so would also put them as the fifth-best record in the AFC and second Wild Card, per EW.

The concern is that injuries keep on mounting and Lock in an attempt to compensate gets into some bad habits. More likely, the offense shows significant improvement and the defense remains steady with plenty of reliable pros to lean on.

Henry

9-7 & Playoff Appearance — The reported loss of Von Miller is tough to swallow, but I’m not going to overreact. The defense was just fine last year without Bradley Chubb and this year the Broncos have Jurrell Casey to help soften the blow of losing an elite pass rusher. The offense should be improved but the question now is how long it will take to improve. The first few weeks could be a struggle but this team feels two wins better than last year’s, so I’ll take the Broncos to win nine games and snag the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

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