After opening up the 2018 with a pair of big home wins, it was looking like the Denver Broncos might surprise and outperform expectations. That didn’t come to pass. The team would go on to lose six of its next seven games to enter the Week 10 bye with a mark of 3-6.
Some time off helped the team right the ship. The Broncos won their next three in a row to even the record at 6-6. Once again, there was a glimmer of hope that the club could make some noise before the season came to a close. Those hopes were quickly dashed.
Denver closed out the year with a painful four-game losing streak. The last two losses were of the double-digit variety. That was about all the team needed to see out of head coach Vance Joseph, as he was shown the door and wished well in future endeavors before the calendar changed to 2019.
The teams coaching search would move along quickly. Vic Fangio, who impressed mightily during his tenure as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, was snapped up and hired as the 17th head coach in franchise history.
That was far from the only change in the Mile High City after a disappointing year for the Broncos. Most notably, the franchise swung a trade for Baltimore Ravens signal-caller Joe Flacco. The cost was far from steep, but Denver brass is hoping that Flacco will finally bring an end to the team’s quest for a QB.
Naturally, the hope is that the changes will spark a return to the playoffs for the Broncos. The NFL betting sites aren’t so sure about that. Currently, Denver checks in tied with the Oakland Raiders for poorest odds to win the AFC West, with both squads projected well behind the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers.
On the conference side, 10 AFC teams are ranked ahead of the Broncos in terms of odds to win the conference. Said another way, the Broncos have their work cut for them in the bid to return to relevancy in 2019.
Are those expectations warranted and on the money? Or is it possible that the oddsmakers are missing something about this year’s edition of the Broncos?
We’ll examine that in full detail and draw some conclusions. For starters, let’s take a closer look at the season that was in Denver.
Denver Broncos 2018 Season Recap
Record: 6-10 | Standings: 3-AFC West | Playoffs: N/A
The Broncos opened up the 2018 season by welcoming the Seattle Seahawks to town. Case Keenum threw three TDs in his Denver debut, while Von Miller had himself a day with three sacks and two forced fumbles. When the final whistle blew, the Broncos earned a hard-fought 27-24 win.
The club was home again in Week 2 playing host to the Oakland Raiders. It was another tough game which went down to the wire. A Brandon McManus field goal in the closing seconds pushed the Broncos to a 20-19 win. At 2-0, the mood was a positive one in Denver.
It didn’t last. The team headed to Baltimore the following week and got pounded by the Ravens to the tune of 27-14. That defeat was the start of a four-game losing streak for the Broncos. Along the way, the club was hammered on the road by the New York Jets, and would drop a pair of close home decisions to the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.
The bleeding was finally stopped in Week 7. They traveled to Arizona for a Thursday night affair with the Cardinals. The visitors came to play, while the hosts were outmatched from the get-go. The end result was Denver winning a laugher by a score of 45-10.
The Broncos would drop their next two games to enter the Week 10 bye with a record of 3-6. The time off agreed with the team, as they came right out and picked up a one-point road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. A home victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and a road win over the Cincinnati Bengals later, and the Broncos were suddenly a .500 team.
That was the last time the team tasted that threshold in 2018. The team lost its last four games, including a 23-9 pounding at home to the Chargers in Week 17. Joseph was a goner soon thereafter, the first of many changes for the club.
Denver closed out 2018 ranked 24th in the league for points scored per game. On defense, the club checked in at 13th for fewest points allowed per contest.
Denver Broncos Offseason Moves
The ax fell on Joseph quickly after the season came to a close. Long-time assistant coach Fangio was a hot commodity in the offseason, but it was the Broncos who were able to lure him away from the Bears. Rich Scangarello will have the reins on offense, while Ed Donatell has been installed as defensive coordinator.
The trade for Flacco went down in February and cost the Broncos a fourth-round pick. That brought an end to the Case Keenum era, as he was shipped to the Washington Redskins for a future draft pick. Keenum did a fine job in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings, but he proved to be a poor fit in Denver.
The club added players including CB Bryce Callahan and S Kareem Jackson. On the way out of Denver are players such as LB Brandon Marshall and CB Bradley Roby. In the NFL Draft, the club would use its first-round selection on Iowa TE Noah Fant.
It’s an area of need for the team, as the Broncos have swung and missed on several tries to fill the position through the draft in recent years. Kansas State OL OL Dalton Risner was the choice in round two, followed by QB Drew Lock out of Missouri.
Flacco’s top targets are currently penciled in as Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, and DaeSean Hamilton. Fant is atop the tight end depth chart, while Phillip Lindsay will lead the way out of the backfield following an impressive rookie campaign. Defense wasn’t the big issue last season, but it should only get better with Fangio at the helm.
Denver Broncos 2019 Schedule
|1||Mon. Sept.8||at Oakland Raiders||10:20 PM||ESPN|
|2||Sun. Sept.15||vs. Chicago Bears||4:25 PM||FOX|
|3||Sun. Sept.22||at Green Bay Packers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|4||Sun. Sept.29||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||4:25 PM||CBS|
|5||Sun. Oct.6||at Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 PM||CBS|
|6||Sun. Oct.13||vs. Tennessee Titans||4:25 PM||CBS|
|7||Thu. Oct.17||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||8:20 PM||FOX|
|8||Sun. Oct.27||at Indianapolis Colts||4:25 PM||CBS|
|9||Sun. Nov.3||vs. Cleveland Browns||4:25 PM||CBS|
|11||Sun. Nov.17||at Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM||CBS|
|12||Sun. Nov.24||at Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM||CBS|
|13||Sun. Dec.1||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||4:25 PM||CBS|
|14||Sun. Dec.8||at Houston Texans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|15||Sun. Dec.15||at Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 PM||CBS|
|16||Sun. Dec.22||vs. Detroit Lions||TBD||CBS|
|17||Sun. Dec.29||vs. Oakland Raiders||4:25 PM||CBS|
After opening up on the road for a Monday Night affair in Oakland, the Broncos will be home for five of their next eight games before the Week 10 bye. Each one of those games will come against teams who can arguably be in the playoff mix in 2019.
It doesn’t get much easier after the week off. Denver will play four of its final seven games on the road. At least five of those clubs have realistic visions of a playoff berth in the coming year. On the bright side, the Broncos close out the year with two straight at home.
Denver Broncos 2019 Outlook
The AFC West will be challenging once again. The Chiefs and Chargers are expected to compete for the division crown, while the Broncos and Raiders project as the also-rans of the division. That said, the Denver homefield advantage remains real. Three wins for this part of the schedule is possible, while four victories would be outperforming expectations.
The remainder of the AFC schedule brings home dates with the Jaguars, Titans, and Browns. Denver will be on the road to square off with the Colts, Bills, and Texans. The same applies for these six games: three wins is doable and possible, while four victories would have to be considered a big success.
Interconference play translates into games with the NFC North. The Broncos are home for the Bears and Lions, and on the road for the Packers and Vikings. This part of the schedule is quite tough with only the Lions game looking like a penciled in victory, but two wins is possible.
Denver Broncos 2019 Win Total Odds and Pick
Here is where the oddsmakers have set the benchmark for Denver in 2019, a slight tick up from the six-win campaign last time around.
Total Regular Season Wins:
Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
It’s a tough schedule overall, and there’s no telling if Flacco is the answer at QB. However, we’ll assume that the defense will be even better under Fangio. The Broncos also have themselves a player in Lindsay out of the backfield.
If the players buy into Fangio right away, this team could surprise and hover around .500. We see eight wins as a reasonable expectation, which places us on the Over for the Broncos.