The Denver Broncos finished the 2018 campaign with a record of 6-10. They were able to rip off a pair of four-game losing streaks, including a putrid stretch at the end the season that led them to finishing at 6-10 despite being 6-6 through 12 games. To solve the Broncos’ problem, they traded for Joe Flacco and dealt away Case Keenum. On the offense, the Broncos will benefit from the returns of Philip Lindsay and Emmanuel Sanders, who both suffered injuries late in the 2018 season. On defense, the Broncos added Bryce Callahan as a slot corner and added the defensive mind of Vic Fangio at head coach.
Due to the poor ending to the 2018 season, the Broncos have been undervalued by many media personalities. Here is a look at the criticism surrounding the Broncos as they enter 2019.
#1: Joe Flacco is not the answer at quarterback.
The Broncos have surrounded Flacco with a variety of pieces that rival anything he had for an extended period at quarterback in Baltimore. The Broncos have Pro Bowl-caliber players at running back and wide receiver (slight grain of salt because of injuries) and invested in tight end Noah Fant in the first round. Fant is likely the best athlete Flacco has been able to play with. In the backfield, the Broncos also have Royce Freeman who should be productive in the red zone. In addition to Sanders, the Broncos sport both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. If either become a good receiver in 2019, the Broncos could make a run at the playoffs.
Verdict: If he is not good enough to be a starter in 2019, the Broncos spent a second-round pick on Drew Lock.
#2: Drew Lock is a bust.
Lock has played exactly zero meaningful snaps in the NFL as of the release of this article. While he could be a bust, it is unfair to characterize him as such until he plays in the regular season. Lock is unlikely to play much in 2019 due to the arrival of Flacco, but determining whether Lock is a bust or not should be held off until at least 2021.
Verdict: Not yet
#3: The Broncos will be the worst team in the AFC West.
The Broncos will not pose much of a threat to the Chargers or the Chiefs at the top of the AFC West, but the Broncos are vastly superior to the Raiders. Whereas Oakland made the flashy move to trade for Antonio Brown, the Broncos made a series of under-the-radar acquisitions and crafty decisions to improve in 2019. The Broncos also have a wonderful thing called defense. The Raiders have no such thing. Denver is solid on both sides of the ball and could make a run at the playoffs with above-average quarterback play.
Verdict: The Raiders exist
The Broncos are a middle-of-the-pack squad. The offense and defense have their share of stars, but it is unlikely to spawn a double-digit-win season. The defense could end up being a top 10 unit with the likes of Chris Harris, Von Miller, and Bradley Chubb under the guidance of defensive guru Vic Fangio. The offense has its question marks, but the team should be pretty solid.
Verdict: 8 wins, no playoffs