What Do We Make Of The Broncos Heading Into Carolina?

Written By Ian St. Clair on 12/08/2020 - Last Updated on February 10, 2021

Fans of the Denver Broncos are in a quandary.

On one hand, the Broncos are 4-8 and lost their 11th straight game to the rival Kansas City Chiefs. It also doesn’t appear that quarterback Drew Lock is the answer.

As for the 2020 record, one more loss and it’s four straight losing seasons.

One of the hallmarks of longtime owner Pat Bowlen was Denver having more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons. Well, one more loss and the Broncos have almost matched those achievements the organization reached in over 30 years. Bowlen led the organization to seven Super Bowls and only seven losing seasons since he became owner in 1984.

To throw a little more salt in the wound, you have to travel back to the dark days of the 1960s and early ’70s to equal this string of losing seasons in Denver.

According to Pro Football Reference, between their inaugural season of 1960 until 1972, the Broncos finished .500 one time, in 1962 when they were 7-7. That means 12 losing seasons in all, and 10 straight after that ’62 season.

At least Denver still has a ways to go to equal that record, so there’s that for the Colorado sports betting market.

What are the positives?

In two of the last three games, the Broncos have shown improvement.

Take the debacle with the New Orleans Saints and throw it in the garbage. Against the Miami Dolphins and the Chiefs, Denver did improve.

That led to an upset win over Miami, and at least keeping it close with Kansas City. Hey, when you’ve lost 11 straight and the three previous games were anything but close, you take what you can get.

But the glimmers of hope are there.

In the most recent game, the Broncos held Patrick Mahomes and that Kansas City offensive machine to 22 points. That’s the second-fewest points since Mahomes has been in the NFL. He’s the NFL betting favorite to win MVP this season. Denver also held the Chiefs to 3-for-10 on third down and 0-for-4 in the red zone.

As for the offense, like the Miami game, the Broncos were able to rush the football (179 yards), convert on third down (7-of-13) and protect Lock (no sacks allowed).

So it seems the offensive line is definitely becoming a strength, led by left tackle Garett Bolles.

Now, Denver needs to score touchdowns.

Broncos at Panthers odds

The various Colorado betting apps don’t think Denver will score touchdowns. The Broncos have opened as a slight underdog to the host Carolina Panthers (4-8).

Historically, Denver does not fare well at 11 a.m. MST games.

While most of the season has been rough, there is one positive, especially for those betting on the Broncos. They’re 7-5 against the spread this season.

So keep that in your back pocket as you think about wagering on Sunday’s game.

How the Broncos can pull off the upset

The key to Sunday’s game is simple, and as noted earlier: Denver needs to score touchdowns.

Moving the ball is good. Running the ball is great. Protecting your quarterback is even better.

But the offense is still scoring 16 points. Unless you’re the 2015 Broncos defense, that won’t win games.

Lock and Denver’s offense must score at least 24 points on Sunday if they want a chance.

Impressive Broncos defense

By now, everyone should know the defense will show up.

When you consider the unit has been without one of the best players in the NFL in Von Miller from the start, that’s even more impressive.

Since Christian McCaffrey is not expected to play on Sunday, the task for Denver’s defense is a little easier. Carolina coach Matt Rhule said on Thursday that McCaffrey tweaked his quad and “does not expect” the running back to play.

The other factor that will play a huge role in this game is who can play for Carolina.

On Monday, the Panthers put eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It will be interesting to see how many of those players are able to get back on the field for kickoff.

Are there glimmers of hope?

Broncos Country is in a quandary.

The Broncos are on the verge of their fourth straight losing season. They don’t appear to have any more clarity at the quarterback position. But there are glimmers of hope on both sides of the ball.

Can Denver take the next step on Sunday against the Panthers?

Photo by AP / Reed Hoffmann
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Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. Ian does a weekly Broncos segment each Saturday on Klahr and Kompany on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM.

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