If you’re like us, you’ve had a difficult time making heads or tails of the Denver Broncos this year.
On the one hand, they’ve largely trailed behind the AFC West lead for most of this season, clearly need a franchise quarterback, and even traded their most popular player Von Miller at the NFL’s trade deadline. On the other, they’re within a single game of the division lead with two games remaining against the Kansas City Chiefs and sit at 6-5 after convincing wins against the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the team from the outside, we thought we’d ask someone on the inside—our friend Sayre Bedinger—to help us out. Sayre runs Predominantly Orange and writes about the Broncos seven days a week. We asked him to help us discern the Broncos’ trajectory and what to expect on Sunday night.
The Broncos traded Von Miller and are now above .500. Does the fan base even know what to think of the Broncos at present? What’s the vibe among fans?
This is a great question! The fan base is along for the rollercoaster ride in every possible way, meaning when the team is losing, it’s doom and gloom. Winning is being met with a mixture of euphoria and skepticism regarding the next possible “drop” on the ride.
It’s been a really strange year overall, starting 3-0 and then dropping four straight games before going 3-1 over the last month. There are a number of fans who don’t want the team winning if it means Vic Fangio saves his job. I think the majority of Broncos Country is just feeling extremely impatient given it’s going on six years since the team won Super Bowl 50 and they haven’t made the playoffs since.
How have the Broncos compensated at pass rusher in particular since trading Miller?
It’s really been fun to watch this particular area grow.
Rookie Jonathon Cooper has been the biggest standout here for the Broncos. Since coming in as a seventh-round pick and then missing early OTAs with a heart issue, Cooper has come out and been impressive from day one. It was exciting to get to see him sort of fill in for Von Miller early on but since he’s taken on more starter snaps, we’re able to see that he might honestly be part of the core of this team going forward.
The Broncos also traded for Stephen Weatherly before the deadline and he has been excellent as a part-time player. Malik Reed is still giving the Broncos good snaps and we just got to see Bradley Chubb get his feet wet, playing his first full game of the season against the Chargers. Things seem to be looking up in the pass rush department even after Von Miller’s departure.
How serious does Teddy Bridgewater’s leg injury look like it will be going forward into an actual game?
He was wearing a soccer-style shin guard at practice, but it truly falls under the ‘bad bruise’ category. Teddy has been dinged up all season, but even with the shin injury, he made a pretty incredible play against Joey Bosa bearing down on a goal-to-go pass play to avoid pressure and throw a touchdown. After his horrendous effort on the fumble return against the Eagles, I think Teddy’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Every team is within a single game of each other in the West at present. How would you predict things will shake out?
I think everyone is expecting the Chiefs to do what they’ve been doing, right?
The Chargers are way too inconsistent right now. I was shocked that the Raiders won their game against the Cowboys. It really felt like that team was about to tailspin out of control, and then they go into a tough road environment and get a tough win.
The Chiefs are playing much better defensively now and as the season progresses, I see that offensive line being a problem for teams in cold-weather games.
The Broncos — what version of Teddy are you going to get week-to-week? Are you getting the Teddy who can only get the offense to 1-of-11 on third downs in a game like he did against the Eagles? Or are you getting the Teddy we saw against the Chargers and Cowboys?
Any final predictions for Sunday’s game?
What goes up must come down, right? The Chiefs have been dominating the Broncos over the last six years, winning 11 straight. They are red-hot in the last couple of years in the month of December. Andy Reid is great after the bye week. The Chiefs are playing at home.
So obviously I’m predicting a Broncos win and I can’t wait for your great readers to meme me!
A huge thanks to Sayre for helping us answer some questions! You can follow him on Twitter here.