The case for and against the Denver Broncos as contenders

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Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) gestures to the fans after beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-13 at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It may be early in the season, but the Denver Broncos have looked sharp to begin their 2021 campaign.

It was a summer filled with questions for the franchise, especially surrounding the quarterback position. The Broncos opted to start Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock, a decision which culminated a summer of strangeness, including rumors of an Aaron Rodgers trade.

On one level, the Broncos’ 2-0 start is impressive simply because it tells us they are focused following a distracting summer. But how real are the Broncos? Are we buying them as an early contender in the AFC West, as a legitimate rival to the Chiefs? Let’s take an (albeit early) look at the 2021 Broncos, and pick out some reasons to buy them as a legitimate threat in the AFC West.


Teddy Bridgewater

Through two games, Teddy Bridgewater has provided the Broncos with A.) the efficiency and consistency Drew Lock lacked and B.) increased aggressiveness and big-play ability. His 8.5 yards per attempt is 10th in the league, and it’s a yard higher than his average YPA last year.

Beyond the explosiveness, Bridgewater has maintained his typical efficiency, posting completion percentages above 75% in each of his contests, and currently sits second in the league with a completion percentage of 77.1. He’s found nice chemistry with receivers and has made a point of spreading the ball around to different targets. Bridgewater has allowed played smart, but he’s shown some decisiveness and willingness to attack, too.

If Bridgewater can maintain this effectiveness, it’ll be a best case scenario for a Broncos team that seemed, at times, directionless at the QB position just this summer.

Depth where it matters

The Broncos are deep in the places that matter, which will only work in their favor as the season progresses. Their receivers include Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant (TE). This group of pass catchers offers a diversity of style, with a nice blend of physicality and explosiveness. This kind of depth makes it so that no one injury is a death-knell. Case in point, the Broncos lost Jerry Jeudy to IR in Week 1. In Week 2, Courtland Sutton stepped up with 9 catches for 159 yards.

Depth is the story with the secondary, too, where the Broncos boast rookie CB Patrick Surtain, who has been spectacular thus far, along with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, and Kareem Jackson (S). There’s a nice blend of youth and experience, there, but no shortage of skill. The Broncos have made a concerted effort over the years to keep a deep secondary. The depth in the secondary means that, similar to the wide receivers, the Broncos are built to last over the course of the season

The Broncos have showed us a initial high level of play over the first two weeks, and the structure of their team-building suggests they are uniquely equipped to maintain that kind of level.

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