They might be third-tier Super Bowl contenders on the NFL odds list, but nobody’s playing a tougher schedule than the Denver Broncos during the 2017 regular season.
The Denver Broncos rode the NFL’s best defense all the way to a championship at Super Bowl 50. They still had the league’s best defense last year, but the offense and special teams were a little worse, and they ended up barely missing the playoffs at 9-7 SU and ATS. Now they get to play the league’s toughest schedule in 2017. Is this the profile of a team you want in your NFL picks?
Did we mention the Broncos have a new head coach? Gary Kubiak had to retire for health reasons in January; Vance Joseph will take over the reins, and like Kubiak, he’s a former college quarterback – although Joseph made it into the NFL as a cornerback, and he’s been coaching defense ever since. This will be his first crack at a head coaching position, college or pro. And there isn’t a lot of room for error on this schedule:
At least the front end is loaded with home games. But like everyone else in the AFC West, the Broncos have to play teams from the AFC East and the NFC East this year, which means Denver will be playing the defending-champion New England Patriots for the seventh straight season. They also have to play twice against their divisional rivals; that’s two games each against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, who went 12-4 last year. Yikes.
The other two games aren’t gimmies, either. Denver will host the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11, then they’ll visit the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15, on prime time TV. If the Broncos haven’t already built a strong record by the time they host Cincinnati, they could be toast. That’s a lot to ask from second-year QB Trevor Siemian, who played replacement-level ball as a rookie. Siemian needs help on the offensive line, especially at left tackle, and he could use some running backs, too.
It’s looking dire, but let’s see what the Broncos can pull off at the draft before we start writing their obituary. Meanwhile, they’ve opened as 4-point home dogs on the NFL odds board for their season opener, a Monday nighter against the Los Angeles Chargers. They might not be an obvious value pick at +1800 to win another Super Bowl, but Week 1 should be more Denver’s speed. It might even prove to be the highlight of their season.