While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Denver Broncos.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
Denver had a rough season in 2021. Without a true QB1, their offense struggled with consistency to put points on the board. While 7-10 isn't that bad of a record, the strength of the AFC West caused them to disappointingly finish last in the division. Denver's defense kept them in most of their games, but most of their wins were against bottom tier teams.
Significant Roster Moves
The Broncos kicked off the quarterback carousel by acquiring Russell Wilson from Seattle in a package that included QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, and DE Shelby Harris. That was by far Denver's biggest move in the offseason, though they had a host of less significant turnover within the roster.
Key losses include QB Teddy Bridgewater, CBs Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller, WR DaeSean Hamilton, and LB Alexander Johnson.
Key additions include LB Randy Gregory, DE D.J. Jones, LB Alex Singleton, and CB K'Waun Williams.
2022 Draft Class
The Broncos had nine selections in this year's draft, prioritizing adding depth to the secondary and defensive line. None of the guys drafted on D will likely be immediate starters, but will instead serve as adequate backups in a strong defensive scheme.
On the other hand, TE Greg Dulcich and WR Montrell Washington will likely contribute right away in an offense whose skill players tend to struggle to stay healthy, as evidenced by the two significant injuries suffered already in training camp that will be discussed later.
The Broncos will take on the AFC South and the NFC West to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, and Baltimore Ravens. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .509, Denver has the 15th hardest schedule in the NFL.
Denver's primetime games include a Thursday night game versus Indianapolis, two Sunday night games versus San Francisco and Kansas City, and two Monday night games at Seattle and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Broncos return 16 of 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, which is about average compared to all teams in the league. Other than quarterback, the offense is only down one starter from last year, and it's clear that Denver's QB situation will be far better than it was in 2021.
The key for the Broncos in 2022 is staying healthy. They have a solid defense and newfound potential for offensive potency with Wilson at the helm, but Denver's skill players have an unfortunate history for injuries (e.g. Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, and Jerry Jeudy in past seasons). The injury bug has already hit the Broncos in preseason, as WR Tim Patrick and RB Damarea Crockett recently suffered torn ACLs in training camp.
Nathaniel Hackett was hired in the offseason to become the 18th head coach in Denver's franchise history. He brought a new cast of guys for the coordinator positions, as all three enter their first season with the Broncos as well.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for the Broncos at 10 games, which would be a fairly significant improvement from last year's record. As of right now, the Broncos are the third most likely team to win the tough AFC West and the fourth most likely team to win the whole AFC. At +1600 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are tied for 7th among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
It's crazy how much of a difference a quarterback makes in the NFL. I have fairly high expectations for the Broncos this year with Russell Wilson at QB, as Denver has seemingly shifted suddenly to "win now" mode. They already have a good defense and solid pieces on offense, and now they'll have a veteran quarterback who has a proven ability to win at a high level.
Unfortunately for them, the AFC West is going to be the best division in football this year, so winning the division is going to be extremely tough. I lean toward favoring both the Chiefs and the Chargers over the Broncos in the long run, though I wouldn't be shocked to see Denver atop the leaderboard when the season is all said and done. For now, even though I'm projecting them to finish third in the AFC West, I still like the Broncos to make a trip to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl winning season in 2015.
What do you think? Will Denver be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Broncos surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson