3 reasons the Broncos are legitimate playoff contenders after 2-0 start
For most, the Denver Broncos 5-11 record in 2020 and lack of inspiring QB competition heading into the new season left them off the radar as candidates to rebound in 2021. However, amidst the rumors that the club could potentially land Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and complete what was otherwise a legitimate contending team, it was clear that Denver was just one piece away from contention.
Now, after a hot 2-0 start to the year (albeit with wins against weaker competition in the Giants and Jaguars), Denver’s convincing wins beg the question: are the Broncos for real this year?
For my money, the answer is yes. Having given up only 13 points in each of the first two games against a Giants team that put up 29 points against the Washington Football Team and a Jaguars squad that scored 21 in Week 1 makes it clear that the Broncos defense is one to be feared. But a deeper look into the reasons for Denver’s success reveals the signs that their success is not merely a flash in the pan – it’s sustainable and the league should be on notice. Here are three reasons why the Broncos are legitimate playoff contenders after their 2-0 start:
3. Teddy Bridgewater’s return to form
After leading the Vikings to an 11-5 record en route to a Pro Bowl selection back in 2015, Bridgewater tore his ACL before the 2016 season could get underway. Being unable to build on what had been a promising start to his young career, Teddy B has never quite regained the magic that his sophomore season foretold of. That is, until now.
He’s played two remarkable games so far, completing over 75% of his passes in each game for an average of just under 300 yards and a total of four touchdowns. Most importantly, though, he’s thrown zero interceptions – a testament to just how much Bridgewater has finally started to shine in the mold of the conservative, but efficient passer that he was always billed to be.
As NFL.com broke down, Teddy has been especially good when plays break down and he’s free to improvise. As a fairly mobile QB with the off-balance precision to make any throw within 20 yards on the money, Bridgewater has the necessary elements in his game to turn any play into something special now, just like an Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen might. With full confidence in his knee and an improved game all around, Bridgewater is now a force to be reckoned with.
2. A skill position renaissance
The Broncos have been loaded with skill position talent the last few years, but they always seem to be injured. Courtland Sutton missed all of 2020 due to injury, Noah Fant struggled to stay on the field as well, and now Jerry Jeudy has landed on the Injured Reserve for his own injury in 2021. However, that has not stopped Denver’s insanely deep roster from making splash plays regularly.
Sutton and Fant have been the catalyst through the air, as Fant has provided steady, consistent production over the middle of the field with his blazing athleticism, while Sutton exploded for a 159-yard performance in Week 2. Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler round out what is an insanely deep receiving corps, even without the uber-talented Jeudy.
Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Willians spearhead one of the league’s most underrated RB duos, as Gordon still provides thunderous running and the breakaway speed to take a run to the house, while Williams has already proven to be well-ahead of his years as a pass-blocker, and definitely serviceable on both via the ground and the air.
With weapons galore, and Jeudy still yet to be fully unleashed, the Broncos will be a headache to stop.
1. Reinforcements on the edge and boundary
While the offense puts up the gaudy numbers, the defense has been the real star of the Broncos’ season so far. Now that Von Miller is back after missing all of 2020, the three-time First Team All-Pro edge rusher is back as the anchor of a fearsome defense.
Miller’s 3 sacks through 2 games have put to rest any questions about his status as an elite edge, and the secondary has come to ball as well. A loaded group with Kyle Fuller, Patrick Surtain II, Kareem Jackson, and Justin Simmons have lived up to the hype, as they’ve limited opponents to under 200 passing yards per game. Jackson and Surtain also came up with big interceptions in Week 2.
With Bradley Chubb and Ronald Darby injured now, the Broncos will eventually get even more talent in what has already been one of the most fearsome defenses in football.
With loads of talent and depth on each side of the ball, the Denver Broncos will be legit in 2021.