The AFC West Denver Broncos (5-11), the 2015 Super Bowl champs, have had a drop off in production the last few years. In 2016, they were 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Last year, they lost more games than they won and were last in the division. Our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview notes that the team has a lot riding on new QB Case Keenum. When he started with the Vikings, Keenum went 11-3 and won a playoff game. He could be what this team has been looking for, a solid vet with experience who’s on the rise.
Last season, the Broncos averaged just 18.1 PPG (T-26th NFL). They were tied for 13th on third-down conversions (39%) and tied for 17th on total offensive yards (324.1 YPG). Their 115.8 YPG on the ground ranked them 12th, while the team’s 208.3 YPG in passing was 20th in the league.
Quarterbacks and Running Backs
Keenum (481 ATT, 325 COMP, 3547 YDs, 22 TDs, 7 INTs) certainly performed well last season, as he had to step into the starter’s role. After the season, the Vikings looked elsewhere for a starting QB, and Keenum became available. Denver picked him up. Last year, he was a sound leader who made few mistakes and proved to be a tough competitor. There will be competition for the starting spot as Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly are given a shot. Chances are one of them will be second on the depth chart and the other third.
Lead Denver RB C.J. Anderson, who in 2017 gained 1007 yards averaging 4.1 YPA, was released in April. That leaves a fairly wide-open competition for the top rushing spot with Devontae Booker (79 ATT, 299 YPA, 3.8 YPA, 1 TD) being the most likely starter. Two rookies join the unit, including Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman had over 1,000 touches for the Ducks and was noted for his durability and resilience. Our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview sees the QB situation as having improved but the RB group as having declined.
Receivers and Tight Ends
The receiving unit is well-stocked. The top three pass catchers are back, including Demaryius Thomas (83 REC, 949 YDs, 11.4 YPC, 5 TDs). Our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview projects that Thomas, who’s now 30 years old, still has the potential to have a big season. He underachieved in 2017. Emmanuel Sanders (47 REC, 555 YDs, 11.8 YPC, 2 TDs) has a huge amount of potential. In 2017, plagued by injuries, he too under performed. RB Booker caught 30 passes, averaging 9.2 YPC and scoring three TDs. TE Jake Butt missed his first season with a torn ACL. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, he could be a big factor when it comes to receiving.
The Broncos allowed 52 sacks (T-29th NFL). That says a lot about the QB situation and passing game. This group continues to be a work-in-progress. As a unit that’s been through various combinations, the Broncos have yet to find the right mix. We do feel that overall the 2018 version has been improved through experience and some additions. Tackle Jared Veldheer comes to the team from Arizona. If he’s healthy, he’ll be helpful. Center Matt Paradis is valuable in so many ways. He has not missed a snap in three seasons. Tackle Garett Bolles led the NFL in holding penalties last season. He needs to get that monkey off his back.
Despite finishing third in total defense, fourth in passing defense, and fifth in rushing defense, our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview found that this team could not stop opponents from scoring. Denver was tied for 24th in points allowed, giving up 23.9 PPG. Additionally, they posted just 33 sacks (22nd NFL) and had a turnover differential of -17 (31st NFL). Although many point to this D as having been one of the better ones in the NFL last season, they were nowhere near the top when it came to stopping teams from scoring.
The D-line was sound versus the rush. DE Adam Gotsis did yeoman’s work in stopping the run. At the other end, Derek Wolfe was effective when not injured. But when he was hurt, this group suffered. Veteran NT Domata Peko Sr. proved to be a stabilizing force. However, the aging nose tackle starts his 12th season and age could be a factor. There is some depth on this unit.
Our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview sees the LB group as being quite strong. Von Miller (10 SCKs) returns. His main problem is double-teaming but the addition of rookie Bradley Chubb could provide Miller with a respite from all the extra attention he received last season. ILB Brandon Marshall (106 TCKLs), who led the team in tackles in 2017, has been a machine. He’s had over 100 bring downs in three of the last four seasons. ILB Todd Davis (82 TKLs), who was second in tackles, earned a contract extension. The Broncos see him as an up-and-coming team leader. Shaquille Barret and Shane Ray, both OLBs, can rush from the edge effectively. This is a deep group.
Premier CB Aqib Talib is now with the LA Rams, and he will be missed. That means fifth-year corner Bradley Roby slips into the starting role. Three-time Pro Bowler Chris Harris Jr. (5.5 SCKs, 2 INTs), a versatile defender, becomes the leader of this group. Reliable safety Darian Stewart, who led the team with three picks, is joined by Justin Simmons at the other safety spot. This is Simmons second season as a starter.
Last season, the Denver special teams had too many miscues and gave up too many points. Consequently, our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview finds that changes have been necessitated. Indy special teams coach Tom McMahon replaces Brock Olivo. Punter Marquette King, who was third in the NFL, joins Denver after being released in May by Oakland. PK Brandon McManus returns after a solid 2017. Jordan Taylor handles punt returns with Carlos Henderson also coming in to take returns.
Vance Joseph (5-11 Broncos and Overall) starts his second season as the Broncos head coach. He’s noted for having a sound grasp of the defensive side of the ball, as well as for his leadership and insight. On the offensive side of the ball, he likes to be conservative. Joseph focuses on controlling the ball, establishing the run, and setting up good third-down conversion scenarios.
2018 Denver Broncos NFL Betting Preview: Final Word
Our 2018 Denver Broncos NFL betting preview sees this team as having decent potential. But they will be tested. Keenum is key, as is the frontline that allowed 52 sacks last season. The Denver defense is good. This team will win more games than they did last year as long as they can put more points on the board. If they can up that tally, the D should take care of the rest.
2018 Denver Broncos NFL Betting Preview Projection: 7-9 Record, 3rd AFC West
QB: 8.5, RB: 7.6, OL 7.5, WR: 8.2, TE:7.2
DL: 8.0, LB: 9.2, DB: 8.0
PK: 8.5, PT: 8.5, RT: 7.0
Intangibles: Can Keenum bring Viking success with him?
Overall Rating = 7.9