Going into last season, I knew the Denver Broncos were in trouble due to a lack of depth at the quarterback position. It was a precarious spot for a team to be in after coming off a Super Bowl victory and they paid the price. They finished third in their division and missed the playoffs after finishing 9-7 — a steep decline from their 12-4 Super Bowl season.
Now here we are again, going through a bit of deja vu as Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch — two very mediocre options — are battling it out to be the team’s starting quarterback. Ineffectiveness at the QB position might not be a huge issue if they played in a division such as the AFC South (see the 2016 Texans), but they don’t. They play in perhaps the deepest division in the NFL and will have their hands full competing with the Chiefs and Raiders.
Now combine all this with a rookie head coach and we have a team that’s far removed from a serious Super Bowl contender. A counterpoint to all of this might be the fact that they still have an elite-level defense. They allowed the fourth-fewest yards last season and the third-fewest points. A repeat performance should enable them to keep scores low, meaning they’ll be a difficult team to put away.
A strong defense doesn’t exactly cancel out their limitations at quarterback, but are there potential profits to be made on Broncos’ futures wagers for the upcoming season? Here’s how they shape up in 2017:
Super Bowl +2800
Clearly not a bet I’d recommend making — I’m sure the headline to this article gave that away — so no need to spend a lot of time analyzing these odds. Among teams who didn’t make the playoffs last season, the Broncos have the second-best Super Bowl odds with the Panthers slightly ahead of them at +2500. The quarterback situation combined with the unlikely possibility of earning a first-round playoff bye makes this bet a complete stay away.
AFC West +350
If you think the Raiders are overrated and the Chiefs are on the decline, then this is a bet to make. I do think that the Chiefs might be in for a slight regression, but the Raiders are the real deal. My biggest issue with making this bet is that the Broncos went just 1-3 vs Kansas City and Oakland in 2016 and 2-4 overall in divisional games. The Chiefs, on the other hand, were perfect in divisional games, while the Raiders were 3-3.
What this comes down to is whether or not they can be better than both the Raiders and Chiefs. Better than one of those teams, sure, that’s not an unrealistic outcome. But both? Forget about it, it’s not happening.
OVER/UNDER Win total – 8.5
Are the Broncos worse than they were last season when they went 9-7? If you think so, you’ll want to take the UNDER, obviously. It really doesn’t help matters that they have the most difficult strength of schedule in 2017, tied with the Chiefs.
Taking a closer look at their schedule, they’re paired up with teams from the AFC and NFC East, along with games against the Colts and Bengals. With the exception of the Jets and maybe the Bills and Chargers, there’s not exactly a whole lot of easy games on their schedule. Maybe they can improve their divisional record to 3-3. From there, going 5-3 in the AFC and NFC East games could be possible. That would get them to eight wins, meaning a win over the Colts or Bengals would get them OVER 8.5 wins.
I think they match last season’s 9-7 record, so betting the OVER is a safe bet.
Von Miller for Defensive Player of the Year +500
Miller and Khalil Mack are tied with the second-best odds to win this award behind J.J. Watt, whose odds are +350. My issue with Watt as the favorite is that he’s trying to bounce back from a season in which he played just three games due to a back injury — there’s zero value in betting on the favorite here.
Miller, on the other hand, set a career best for tackles in 2016 and had 13.5 sacks — good enough for second-best in the league. Mack won the award last year over Miller by just one vote, but Miller may have been more deserving as he had more total tackles and more sacks. Based on stats alone, he should have won the award in 2016, but much like league MVP, voting is subjective. That should hurt Mack’s odds of repeating as DPOY as only two players have been back-to-back recipients of the award since they started to give it out in 1971.
As the linchpin in what’s been the NFL’s most consistently great defense for several seasons now, there’s no reason to think Miller’s production will slow down. He’s still in his prime physical years, he doesn’t have the injury concerns that Watt does and both his team and individual stats will be among the best in the league.
Odds as of August 17 at Sportsbook