Head coach: Vic Fangio (first year)
Last year’s record: 6-10
First game: Sept. 9 at Oakland Raiders
Win total: Over/Under 7 (Over 7 -115, Under 7 -105)
Super Bowl odds: +6600
Vance Joseph didn’t last long as the Broncos head coach. Since he took over for Gary Kubiak, who led the Broncos to a Super Bowl win in 2015, Joseph went 11-21 in two seasons as head coach. Quarterback play didn’t help much, as Trevor Siemian and Case Keenum both attempted the near-impossible feat of filling Peyton Manning’s shoes.
Who’s in and who’s out
The front office had no patience to weather another storm in the Mile High City in 2019, and instead opted to usher in a new era and coaching regime in the offseason. Denver hired Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as the new head coach of the Broncos in January. Fangio brought with him Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell to serve as defensive coordinator. Fangio also chose to hire former 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, who will assume the role of offensive coordinator for the first time at the NFL level.
Along with the changes at the top, the Broncos needed a quarterback they could trust. They swiped veteran Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens and drafted Drew Lock of Missouri as a backup prospect.
Center Matt Paradis signed with the Panthers in free agency, leaving Connor McGovern to step up at the position. The Broncos did add lineman Ju’Wuan James from Miami on a four-year $51 million deal. He’ll join an offensive line featuring Garett Bolles, new addition Dalton Risner (drafted in April from Kansas State) and guard Ronald Leary, who is back after tearing his Achilles in 2018.
Star receiver Emmanuel Sanders will also return to the field in 2019 after he suffered the same injury as Leary in December. He’ll be a main target for Flacco, along with rookie tight end Noah Fant of Iowa, while Phillip Lindsay (1,037 rushing yards, 10 total touchdowns) should carry the load in the run game, with some help from Royce Freeman (521 yards, five TDs).
On defense the Broncos brought in cornerback Bryce Callahan from the Bears in free agency, as well as strong safety Kareem Jackson of the Texans. With Fangio leading the way in Denver, expect to see a marked improvement on the defensive side in 2019.
As for the draft, the Broncos selected Fant in the first round, Lock and Risner in the second, defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones of Ohio State in the third round, linebacker Justin Hollins of Oregon in the fifth and wide receiver Juwann Winfree of Colorado in the sixth.
First game of the season, Sept. 9, 10:20 p.m. ET, Oakland Coliseum
Denver Broncos (+110) at Oakland Raiders (-130)
Spread: Raiders -2 (-105)
Over/Under: Over 43.5 (-105), Under 43.5 (-105)
Antonio Brown is a flashy pickup for the Raiders, but Oakland will still remain at the bottom of the AFC West by the end of the season. Take the Broncos to win.
Over/Under win total: 7
Schedule (bold font indicates home game): Raiders, Bears, Packers, Jaguars, Chargers, Titans, Chiefs, Colts, Browns, BYE, Vikings, Bills, Chargers, Texans, Chiefs, Lions, Raiders
Fangio will meet his former team in Week 2, as the Broncos host the Bears. Mark down loss No. 1 of the season for Denver, and follow it up with another on the road at Green Bay in Week 3. Games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Detroit and Oakland at home are all winnable. The Broncos will improve on last year’s 6-10 record. They’ll likely push at 7, but let’s give Fangio the benefit of the doubt here and take the over.
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