The Denver Broncos' Week 3 game against the Miami Dolphins is a pivotal early-season matchup for Sean Peyton and Russell Wilson. With three days left until the Broncos-Dolphins game, our Broncos Week 3 predictions suggest that Denver's playoff hopes could be in peril before October arrives.
The Broncos risk falling out of contention rather quickly if they can't beat the Dolphins. Denver is off to a 0-2 start in the 2023 season, losing a pair of highly winnable games. The Broncos were upset by the Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 in Week 1, blowing a fourth-quarter lead to their AFC West rivals. In Week 2, Denver was unable to hold onto a 21-3 lead against the Washington Commanders, losing 35-33.
The Dolphins' start to the 2023 campaign has been quite the opposite. While Denver blew two games at home, Miami compiled a pair of impressive road wins. After beating the Los Angeles Chargers in a shootout, the Dolphins held off the New England Patriots 24-17 on Sunday Night Football. Tua Tagovailoa has emerged as the early 2023 NFL MVP favorite.
Denver faces an uphill battle in Miami. The Broncos are 6.5-point underdogs against the Dolphins at FanDuel Sportsbook. Denver has +235 odds to win outright.
Let's make our bold Broncos Week 3 predictions. Note that these are bold predictions. It isn't likely that both predictions will come to fruition, but they have a better chance of occurring than what the odds indicate.
2. Denver Broncos defense will give up 400 passing yards and three touchdowns to Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa leads the league with 715 passing yards. Miami is first in total offense and third in points per game. There might only be a handful of teams that have a chance of slowing down the Dolphins' high-powered offense. Given what happened in the first two weeks, the Broncos are probably not in that group.
Denver played poorly against a pair of quarterbacks who are average at best. The Raiders only scored 17 points against the Broncos, but Jimmy Garoppolo had a strong game. Garoppolo completed 20 of 26 passes for 200 yards and a 107.9 passer rating. Sam Howell's 299 passing yards on 39 attempts were good enough to give him a 108.8 rating. Howell wasn't nearly as effective in his other two NFL starts. Garoppolo and Howell both had a sub-78.0 rating when they faced a different opponent this season.
There's a chance that the Broncos will get fortunate with the Dolphins' injuries. Jaylen Waddle is in concussion protocol. Tyreek Hill was limited in Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury. If both players are on the field, expect another big day from Tagovailoa and Miami's offense.
1. Broncos will lose to the Dolphins by two touchdowns
The early returns on the Sean Payton-Russell Wilson era are not good. There was an idea that the Broncos would be elevated simply by replacing Nathaniel Hackett with a competent coach. Denver's first two losses suggest that the process of turning the team around isn't going to be a quick one, if it happens at all.
Wilson's stats for the 2023 season are somewhat impressive. The Broncos quarterback has completed 68.2% of his passes for 485 yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a 108.5 passer rating. Those numbers don't tell the whole story, particularly how much Wilson and Denver's offense have struggled in the second half of their two losses. In the third and fourth quarters, Wilson has averaged 5.3 yards per attempt, completed just 56% of his passes and taken six sacks. His one touchdown pass was a Hail Mary that was tipped multiple times before being caught.
Either it's going to take time for Wilson to settle into Payton's offense and put together four strong quarters or he simply is no longer a reliable quarterback. No matter which is true, the Broncos will have trouble competing with one of the AFC's best teams.
The Dolphins have +215 odds at FanDuel to beat the Broncos by 14 points or more.