Broncos Projected to Finish Last in AFC West

Melvin Gordon Kareem Jackson

Getty Kareem Jackson #22 and Melvin Gordon #25 of the Denver Broncos react to a 37-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 15, 2020.

As Sunday’s Week 1 encounter at the New York Football Giants inches closer, optimism flows from Englewood.

All-time sack leader Von Miller, safety Justin Simmons and defensive end Shelby Harris are just a few brimming about the Denver Broncos’ chances during the 2021 season.

The same buoyancy isn’t shared across the NFL media landscape with many experts predicting Vic Fangio’s squad will flail rather than flourish.

Long Season Ahead

Denver finds itself positioned within one of the most cutthroat divisions in the National Football League, competing with the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders for top spot in the AFC West.

Unsurprisingly Kansas City are as close to a certainty to retain their crown while the Chargers’ sophomore stud quarterback Justin Herbert will be ready to put Denver’s defense to the sword with his talented pass catchers and improved offensive line.

Given those difficulties, among other aspects, NFL Network’s Rich Eisen predicts the Broncos to finish last for the third time in five seasons. On his eponymous sports radio show, Eisen outlined precisely why he believes the Broncos will endure a dire season.

“The Broncos quarterback situation I need to see,” Eisen said. “I need to see how it works out with Teddy Bridgewater and I have a feeling we’re going to see (head coach) Vic Fangio go back and forth between [Teddy] Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

“He’s going to want to see what he’s got in Drew Lock before the end of the season, Elway might want to see what he’s got in Drew Lock because they’re gonna be putting Green Bay [No.] 12 jerseys on their hope chest between now [and] all the way through to January.

“So, I need to see what the Broncos look like before I have to believe in them, and I’m not saying they can’t be better or won’t be better than fourth place in the division but I’m taking the Chargers two, Raiders three, Broncos four.”

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Misery Loves Company

Eisen’s colleagues Chris Brockman and T.J. Jefferson also picked the Broncos to finish last in the West. Though in better news for Broncos Country, Eisen did have some positive words to say about rookie sensation Javonte Williams, who has wowed many during training camp.

“Melvin Gordon best have his head on a swivel atop that flow chart,” Eisen said.

Meanwhile, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also shares Eisen’s pessimism about the Broncos, projecting they will finish under 9 wins for the fifth straight season. Florio cited Denver’s difficult schedule as a main reason for their predicted struggles.

“Four of their games [are] against the Chiefs and the Chargers, then they get the Ravens, Browns and Steelers because of that rotation where they play all teams from the AFC North,” Florio revealed on ‘Pro Football Talk’ with Chris Simms.

“That’s seven of your games right there. Maybe they can steal one or two but that’s almost half of your schedule of a crippling array of opponents who are clearly on paper better than you. So it makes for a long year for the Denver Broncos.”

Cellar-dwelling is something which has become all too frequent for Broncos Country’s liking and most will expect better with a former Pro Bowl quarterback now under centre. Yes, that’s Teddy Bridgewater in case you’d forgotten.

Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic

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