DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
New faces: GM George Paton, QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, ILB Jonathon Cooper, CB Ronald Darby, CB Kyle Fuller, TE Eric Saubert, OL Quinn Meinerz, OLB Baron Browning, S Caden Sterns, LB Jonas Griffith.
Key losses: RT Ja’Wuan James, RB Phillip Lindsay, OT Elijah Wilkinson, TE Nick Vannett, DL Jurrell Casey, CB A.J. Bouye, DE DeMarcus Walker, S Will Parks, LB Joe Jones, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, WR Trinity Benson.
Strengths: Paton rebuilt Denver’s secondary but also augmented the front seven. For the first time since the Broncs won Super Bowl 50 five years ago they have a legitimate two-deep roster at every spot. Their offense also could be set for a breakout season with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam providing Bridgewater with plenty of tantalizing targets.
Weaknesses: Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is on the hot seat every bit as much as head coach Vic Fangio if the Broncos stumble again at the start. With such a deep roster, it’s no longer an excuse that the team simply lacks the personnel. Special teams blunders were plentiful throughout the preseason, although K Brandon McManus and P Sam Martin were solid. Paton traded for 49ers special teams stud Jonas Griffith, a second-year LB from Indiana State, to help the coverage units that were awful in the preseason.
Camp Development: Health. For a change, the Broncos didn’t suffer any big losses this summer. Von Miller, whose dislodged ankle tendon cost him all of 2020, slow-rolled his return to form. So did WR Sutton, who played just one game last year (shoulder, ACL) after making his first Pro Bowl. Like Sutton, Okwuegbunam also is coming back from a torn ACL.
Fantasy Player To Watch: Jeudy, who benefits the most from Bridgewater’s precision passing after so many misfires from Drew Lock last season. Conversely, Hamler, who caught an 80-yard TD from Lock in the preseason opener, probably suffers the most from not having a big-armed QB.
FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 41-1. Over/under wins: 8 1/2.
Expectations: The Broncos haven’t had a winning record in four years or made it to the playoffs in five. That’s the worst stretch for this proud franchise since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. They fully expect to be back in the playoff hunt with a steady QB at the helm of a rising offense. The Broncos are going against the grain in relying on their defense and a ground game.