Best and worst case scenario for 2022

Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL preview! It’s time to look into our crystal football and take a glimpse at the Denver Broncos season prediction.

The 2021 season was another eye-roller for Denver Broncos fans with more of the same issues that have plagued the team since Peyton Manning retired in 2016. Poor coaching, bad special teams, average or worse quarterback play, and a defense that could get no help from the offense. It’s been the same song and dance since 2016.

Denver Broncos 2021 season in review

  • 7-10 record
  • 4th place in AFC West
  • Didn’t Qualify for Playoffs

Although the 2021 season started better than many expected for the Denver Broncos (team was 3-0 after an easy schedule to open the year), it seemed like the team came around to meeting everyone’s expectations as the year progressed. Injuries were killer, quarterback play was inconsistent at best, and the Broncos’ coaching and game management under Vic Fangio and his staff was just not good.

Nobody in Broncos Country expects to be in last place year in and year out, but it seemed like most could feel it last year given the fact the team clearly went into the year with the absolute worst QB situation in the division as well as a coaching staff on thin ice.

Trading a legend like Von Miller in the middle of the season was a gut check for the Broncos and the fan base, but re-signing key players like Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick in the middle of the season was a great sign of the good things to come from this team in the 2022 offseason. Going 7-10 on the season was certainly unacceptable, but everyone in Broncos Country knew there would be major changes on the horizon.

Denver Broncos NFL Draft class 2022

  • Rd 2: Nik Bonitto, EDGE/Oklahoma
  • Rd 3: Greg Dulcich, TE/UCLA
  • Rd 4: Damarri Mathis, CB/Pittsburgh
  • Rd 4: Eyioma Uwazurike, DL/Iowa State
  • Rd 5: Delarrin Turner-Yell, DB/Oklahoma
  • Rd 5: Montrell Washington, WR/Samford
  • Rd 5: Luke Wattenberg, OL/Washington
  • Rd 6: Matt Henningsen, DL/Wisconsin
  • Rd 7: Faion Hicks, CB/Wisconsin

The Broncos didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, but they did at least have a couple of high picks thanks to the Von Miller trade during the 2021 season.

General manager George Paton used the team’s top pick on pass rusher Nik Bonitto, who will be expected to play a rotational role as a rookie. Tight end Greg Dulcich, the team’s third-round pick, could end up as the starting tight end at some point sooner than later. Cornerback Damarri Mathis has had a great training camp and should factor into the team’s plans in the secondary very early on.

The most highly anticipated pick from this class might be Montrell Washington, a little-known rookie out of Samford. He’s a dynamic return specialist who has exceeded all expectations so far in training camp as a receiver.

Previewing Denver Broncos offense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • Russell Wilson, QB
    • Billy Turner, OL
    • Greg Dulcich, TE
  • Biggest X-Factor: Jerry Jeudy, WR
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Right Tackle

The Denver Broncos offense will be night and day in 2022 compared to what anyone has seen really since the 2014 season. The Broncos’ offense has been among the worst and least efficient in the entire NFL over the last handful of years, but everything will change with Russell Wilson under center.

Still one of the premiere quarterbacks in the game, Wilson has a plethora of weapons to distribute the ball to through the air and on the ground. His top receiver, Courtland Sutton, is poised for a second breakout campaign now that he’s two years removed from ACL surgery. The Broncos lost Tim Patrick for the season to injury but Jerry Jeudy has had a tremendous offseason and is poised for his biggest year yet as a pro.

At the running back position, you won’t find many better duos than Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. Those two can play all three downs and give you a duo that can absolutely wear down a defense over four quarters if the Broncos want to go heavy on running the ball.

In terms of the weakest skill position in Denver, the tight end spot is the biggest question mark. The price to acquire Russell Wilson involved Noah Fant, who was the team’s leader in receptions last season. Albert Okwuegbunam is a tremendous athlete at the position who is expected to be the team’s TE1, while rookie third-round pick Greg Dulcich made a huge impression at OTAs before suffering a hamstring injury. There are plenty of unknowns despite there being plenty of talent at tight end for the Broncos.

Previewing Denver Broncos defense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • Randy Gregory, DE
    • K’Waun Williams, CB
    • DJ Jones, DL
  • Biggest X-Factor: Pat Surtain II, CB
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Inside Linebacker

As bad and dare I say irrelevant as the Denver Broncos have been in recent years, you can’t knock the defense under Vic Fangio too badly. This unit has been outstanding for the most part, especially in the red zone, and they look poised to have a huge year as a group in 2022.

The best player on this defense is currently Justin Simmons, but if you ask the onlookers at training camp, they might say Pat Surtain II is the best. Some have even said Surtain could be the best player on this team. Between Surtain and Simmons, the Broncos have multiple superstars in the secondary and some budding stars on the defensive front.

Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory, if they can stay healthy, will give the Broncos one of the most physical edge duos in the NFL. And unlike last year, the Broncos will be bringing a pass rush off the edge in waves. Gone are Stephen Weatherly and Anthony Chickillo. In are Baron Browning and Nik Bonitto, bringing speed upon speed in the pass rush department. On the defensive line, Dre’Mont Jones might be the best defensive lineman in the NFL that no one is talking about. He’s been wrecking practice on a daily basis.

The biggest weakness for this Denver Broncos defense, at least in terms of overall depth, could be the inside linebacker position. The team loves Josey Jewell and re-signed him to a two-year deal this offseason, but fellow starter Jonas Griffith – an expected breakout candidate – suffered a dislocated elbow in the preseason opener and may not be available at the start of the season. The Broncos will compensate with a ton of nickel defense and a variety of personnel groupings to cover the depth issue at linebacker.

Denver Broncos coaching staff overview

  • Head Coach: Nathaniel Hackett
  • Off. Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett/Justin Outten
  • Def. Coordinator: Ejiro Evero
  • 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Ejiro Evero

The Denver Broncos have another new head coach with Nathaniel Hackett coming over from the Green Bay Packers. Personality-wise, Hackett is the complete opposite of the coach he’s replacing, Vic Fangio. This staff, in general, is very different. Fangio’s staff was one of the most experienced in the entire NFL, and this is one of the youngest groups in the league.

Offensively, Hackett will assume the play-calling duties but he’s mentioned it will be a collaborative effort with offensive coordinator Justin Outten, quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak, and obviously quarterback Russell Wilson, among others.

Defensively, the Broncos are led by former Rams assistant Ejiro Evero, someone who has deep ties with Hackett from their time together at UC Davis. Obviously coming over from the Los Angeles Rams, Evero brings with him a ring and despite being a first-time NFL defensive coordinator, he’s had plenty of experience working with some of the NFL’s best coordinators including a stint in San Francisco with Vic Fangio at one point.

Evero is the most likely 2023 head coaching candidate on the Denver Broncos’ staff at this point, though nobody should be surprised to hear names like Christian Parker (defensive backs) and Zach Azzanni (wide receivers) start to pop up at some point in the near future. Evero has steadily risen through the ranks and has worked with some really great coaches, and he’s as sharp as they come. If the Broncos’ defense has a bunch of success in 2022, don’t be shocked if he’s a hot name on the circuit next offseason.

Denver Broncos Awards Watch

Russell Wilson, MVP

The Denver Broncos finally have themselves a legitimate MVP candidate in quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson was a clear candidate for MVP just a couple of seasons ago, and playing in Denver (fully healthy), those talks should start back up again, especially if this team has the kind of success they hope to this year.

Pat Surtain II, Defensive Player of the Year

This is a lofty one, but Pat Surtain II could contend for defensive player of the year in 2022. Surtain’s ability to lock down his side of the field is remarkable. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL already and he’s only played one season. It feels like you’ve got to be a pass rusher to win this award these days, but hopefully Surtain can get some love as well.

George Paton, Executive of the Year

After trading for Russell Wilson, Paton might start getting some respect on the annual general manager rankings. Sure, he’s only been on the job for two seasons, but Paton has clearly proven that he’s as sharp as they come as an NFL general manager, and he’s been doing nothing but swinging for the fences while maintaining a very high batting average. The acquisition of Wilson alone could get him this award in 2022.

Biggest game on Denver Broncos schedule

No games in the regular season are more important than the Kansas City Chiefs. The Denver Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since Week 2 of the 2015 season. The Chiefs have dominated the Broncos even though Denver has come close a couple of times. The Broncos need to get back on the board against KC especially if they want to contend for the AFC West.

Denver Broncos season prediction: Best case scenario

The Broncos will be shooting for the stars after acquiring Russell Wilson. The team has Super Bowl aspirations once again and why not? Everybody has been saying the Broncos are “a quarterback away” for a couple of years now, and now they have a quarterback that has been one of the best in the league over the last 10 years. There’s no doubt that the best-case scenario for the Broncos in 2022 is to win it all.

Denver Broncos season prediction: Worst-case scenario

Unlike in previous years, the worst-case scenario for this Denver Broncos team – provided they stay mostly healthy – is to finish with a winning record. There’s no way this team is going to have a losing record if they stay healthy. They are too talented and too deep. Any team’s worst-case scenario is to have a bunch of guys get hurt and miss the postseason, but assuming that’s not the case, I think 9-8 is as bad as it would get for the Broncos in 2022.

Denver Broncos season prediction for 2022

  • 12-5 record
  • 1st place in AFC West
  • Playoff Prediction: Reach Super Bowl LVII

There’s a lot of “new” in Denver this year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We saw the 2012 Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning coming off of five neck procedures have an unbelievable run throughout the 2012 season. That team lost in overtime in the playoffs but they are generally considered one of the best Broncos teams to not win it all.

Why not the 2022 version with Russell Wilson under center? The Broncos should have a top-five defense at best, top 10 at the worst. They will be able to run the ball effectively with a two-headed monster in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon.

This team has studs at receiver, they have studs in the secondary, and they have studs in the pass rush department.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are kings of the AFC West until proven otherwise, but this should be the year the Denver Broncos get back on the saddle and out of the cellar in the AFC West.

Read more from FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview here. For more Denver Broncos coverage, check out Predominately Orange

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