The 2019 NFL season seems like it will be one of the most competitive in a long time. While some teams, like the Patriots and Saints, are still heavy favorites to win their respective divisions, the race for the playoffs looks to be a tough one overall. There are a few teams in particular who have quietly improved over this past offseason. Although these teams did not make the playoffs this past season and will still likely struggle to make the playoffs this season, they’ve placed themselves in a much better position to have a chance. Boasting a new quarterback and head coach, the 2019 Denver Broncos could make a playoff push.
Under-the-Radar Risers 2019: Denver Broncos
2018 Record: 6-10
The Broncos have seen turnover at key positions this offseason, most notably quarterback, head coach, and offensive coordinator, which always comes with some uncertainty. Moreover, the Broncos play in a division currently dominated by the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. This will make it difficult for them to secure a playoff spot. But the Broncos have a lot going for them as well.
The Broncos might have the league’s best defense in 2019. Vic Fangio, the former coordinator of the Chicago Bears’ league-leading scoring defense, holds the reins to the No Fly Zone=. The Broncos start the season with three of the league’s top 10 corners from 2018 in Chris Harris, Bryce Callahan, and Kareem Jackson. Their secondary is so talented that they’ve slotted Jackson, the Texans number one corner from last season, as a strong safety on their depth chart. On top of this, corner Trey Johnson has been impressive both in camp and during the Hall of Fame Game.
The Broncos’ secondary was perhaps the weakness of their defense last season. The front seven, led by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, once again looks to be terrifying for opposing quarterbacks. They combined for the second-most sacks of any pass rush duo in 2018. In addition to this, rookie Dre’mont Jones has looked great on the line so far in the preseason.
The offense is the wild card of this team. Breakout star Phillip Lindsay will once again lead the ground game. He will share reps with newly acquired free agent Theo Riddick. As a pleasant surprise, running back Khalfani Muhammad showed he could be a productive option in last week’s Hall of Fame Game. Joe Flacco will have a number of weapons in the pass game, including rookie tight end Noah Fant, young riser Courtland Sutton, and veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders. However, it’s questionable if Joe Flacco will be able to effectively lead the passing game, and Drew Lock certainly isn’t ready to start yet.
The additions of Ja’Whaun James and Dalton Risner in the trenches should help shore up a below-average offensive line from last offseason. Unfortunately, Connor McGovern is still slated to play center as opposed to guard. He will have to improve to make up for the loss of Matt Paradis.
The Broncos could have the best defense in the league. They will likely be the most successful team of any on this list. But they play in an ultra-competitive division dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos will have to overcome at least one of those teams if they want to make a playoff run this season.
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