Think back to the last time the Denver Broncos started 3-0.
You have to traverse to 2016 when Trevor Siemian was the quarterback. The Broncos were on the heels of a magical run that ended in a Super Bowl 50 win and Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset.
That 2016 season was also the last time Denver finished with a winning record and started a season 4-0. Yes, it’s been a long five years.
In the previous 10 times the Broncos have started a season 3-0, they’ve never finished with a losing record and made the playoffs six times.
Now comes the first big test of the 2021 NFL season for Denver in the form of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (2-1).
Ravens vs Broncos odds
When the odds were released, Denver was a +3 underdog.
After the first three games of the season, the Broncos betting odds now have them back to slight underdogs at .
While the odds have shifted, Sunday is still a very difficult task for Denver. For those who watched the Kansas City Chiefs and Ravens game a few weeks ago, you saw firsthand how special Jackson is. As well as the nightmare he is to defend.
What helps the Broncos is the fact they’re playing at home. The home-field advantage has definitely shifted the last 10-15 years in the NFL, but Denver has a distinct advantage playing at 5,280 feet above sea level.
Denver’s current formula plays to that extremely well. Not to mention the raucous Broncos Country crowd. Empower Field at Mile High is going to be extremely wound up and loud come Sunday afternoon.
One fascinating NFL betting stat to keep in mind: After the 26-0 flogging of the New York Jets, Teddy Bridgewater is now 38-14 against the spread in his career. That includes 3-0 this season.
As for the total for Sunday’s game, the over/under sits at . For what it’s worth, the under has hit in all three games this season for the Broncos.
How Denver beats the Ravens
For the Broncos to have a shot on Sunday, they need to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
On defense, Denver must stop the run, or at least limit the huge runs. Given how dynamic Jackson is, that’s easier said than done.
As Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told the Denver media on Monday about defending Jackson:
“He’s hard to contain. He’s a special talent. It’s almost like Barry Sanders is playing quarterback.”
If Denver is able to limit the Ravens’ rushing attack, the pass rush and secondary has the advantage. But that running game is very good.
Are Bridgewater and the Broncos for real?
On the offensive side of the ball, the recipe to success is there for Denver. Run the ball and have Bridgewater utilize playaction for deep connections with his receivers.
In the first three games, Bridgewater is 10-for-22 on passes of 15 or more yards.
For the season, Denver’s quarterback has a 76.8% completion percentage for 827 yards, four touchdowns and, the key number, zero interceptions. He also has a 116.4 quarterback rating.
The Broncos also need to control time of possession as to not only keep Jackson on the sideline but wear out that Baltimore defense that is playing at a mile high. The other key factor: Win the turnover battle.
After this 3-0 start, there is excitement and hope back in Denver. It’s been a long five years. At the same time, given who they’ve played, there is some doubt around this team. Are the Broncos for real or a mirage?
If the Broncos are able to pass the first big test of the season this Sunday and improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2016, there’s no question they’re for real.