The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2017 regular season on Sept. 7. Coming in at No. 13 on our rankings are the unbalanced Denver Broncos.
2016 in a nutshell: The Broncos followed up a Super Bowl-winning campaign with a dud that left them out of the playoffs. The stacked defense still ranked No. 1 in terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) at Football Outsiders, but with quarterback Trevor Siemian unable to carry an offense that ranked 27th on the ground and overall, they settled for a 9-7 record.
What’s different: Vance Joseph comes over from Miami to take over as head coach after Gary Kubiak stepped down due to health reasons. Denver also made some major changes to the offensive line, added Jamaal Charles and lost DeMarcus Ware to retirement.
Von Miller. Spin move. Sack. pic.twitter.com/DdesfCNkM0
— 360°FantasyFootball (@360FFB) July 9, 2017
Why they could be awesome: That D, with Von Miller, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Brandon Marshall and Derek Wolfe making up arguably the best defensive core in football.
Why they could suck: That offense, with Siemian in charge after winning a quarterback competition basically by default for the second consecutive year. The Broncos are using a rookie in Garett Bolles at left tackle and there’s no clear lead back.
Major additions: Charles, who has 83 carries the last two seasons and is out of knees, along with new offensive linemen Bolles, Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson.
Major losses: Kubiak, Ware, defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and disappointing offensive tackle Sylvester Williams.
Breakout watch: Shane Ray — a first-round pick in 2015 — is entering his first full season as a regular starter. He had eight sacks despite starting just eight games last year and there’s a lot of hope there. Problem is he remains out with a torn ligament in his left wrist, which could slow him down early.
Position to watch: The Broncos need more from the running back position after averaging just 3.6 yards per carry as a team last season. But you can’t expect much from Charles at this point in his career, second-year fourth-round pick Devontae Booker struggled last year and remains out with a wrist injury and C.J. Anderson hasn’t done much since a breakout sophomore season in 2014.
Prediction: Again, that defense gives Denver a shot. But Siemian? And that running game? And that line? In that division? Come on….
9-7, 3rd place in the AFC West