The Broncos opened the season filled with optimism. After getting a new head coach and trading for star quarterback Russell Wilson, there were thoughts of snapping a seven-year playoff drought. Or even bringing home a fourth Lombardi Trophy.
But entering its Week 9 bye, the team is 3-5, but those grandiose preseason hopes have been supplanted with a stark reality. The Broncos are averaging 15.3 points (31st in the league) and a bevy of key players — including OT Garett Bolles, WR Tim Patrick, RB Javonte Williams and CB Ronald Darby — are out for the year.
That said, their defense is among the league’s best, even after trading star edge rusher Bradley Chubb. And coming off of their comeback win over the Jaguars in London, perhaps there’s some optimism that this team could finally turn the season around.
Here’s a look at how various national experts rated the Broncos in their power rankings entering Week 9:
The Athletic (No. 23) | Last week: No. 25
“By DVOA, no team’s offense and defense are separated in quality more than the Broncos. They rank No. 1 in defensive DVOA and No. 27 on offense,” Bo Wulf writes. See the full rankings (subscription).
Bleacher Report (No. 24) | Last week: No. 28
“Denver’s defense has played as well as any unit in the league this season. But if the Broncos have any hope of turning their season around and becoming the contender some expected them to be in 2022, then the offense needs use this game as a springboard and continue to improve.” See the full rankings.
CBS Sports (No. 24) | Last week: No. 27
“They found a way to win against the Jaguars as Russell Wilson brought them from behind. That could be what gets him going,” Pete Prisco writes. See the full rankings.
ESPN (No. 25) | Last week: No. 27
“The offense has scored more than 16 points in just two games this season, so it relied on the defense to be the source of hope. And the Broncos have stood tall on that side of the ball through the first eight games as they are among the league’s best in total defense, scoring defense and red zone defense. Ejiro Evero’s group has surrendered some rushing yards at times — most notably to the Raiders in Week 4 and the Jaguars in London this past Sunday — but overall they have overcome their offense’s failings most of the time,” Jeff Legwold writes. See the full rankings.
NFL.com (No. 26) | Last week: No. 27
“The Broncos are not fixed … far from it. But it’s hard to overstate how important Sunday’s 21-17 win was for a team that feels like it’s been teetering on the edge of the cliff since Week 1. Russell Wilson delivered another deeply inconsistent performance in his return from a hamstring injury, but he deserves credit for the deep strike to KJ Hamler that kick-started an 80-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes. When cornerback K’Waun Williams sealed the game minutes later with a diving interception, you could hear the organizational exhale from London. Under new ownership and at the helm of one of football’s most disappointing teams, Nathaniel Hackett has to be feeling some heat under his seat. This was a desperately needed victory,” Dan Hanzus writes. See the full rankings.
The Sporting News (No. 25) | Last week: No. 27
“The Broncos didn’t fix everything in London with Russell Wilson, but they were much more competent offensively by leaning more on the run. The defensive backbone continues to be strong despite leaks against the run,” Vinnie Iyer writes. See the full rankings.
Sports Illustrated (No. 19) | Last week: No. 24
“This was a win the Broncos had to have. Russell Wilson seems to be seeing the field a little bit better, though the opening-drive interception was egregious and he locked on to his wide receiver the entire time. If he’s relearning the position as a less mobile passer, the Broncos are in for a bumpy ride,” Conor Orr writes. See the full rankings.
USA Today (No. 25) | Last week: No. 30
“It’s possible they salvaged their season with Sunday’s win in London. Yet all you need to know about this team is that it was flagged for delay of game on a punt (deep within its own territory) and before a kickoff. Truly bizarre,” Nate Davis writes. See the full rankings.