2018 Denver Broncos Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
John Elway is a god in Denver and always will be. He was one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and led the franchise to a handful of Super Bowl appearances and back-to-back titles in the 1997-98 seasons - he walked away on top in perfect style after that second championship.
That said, sometimes the greatest players are the most questionable decision-makers when it comes to running a team. Magic Johnson as a head coach? Uh, no. Michael Jordan as an owner? Not going well. For every Jerry West (guess I can only think of NBA guys right now), there are two more high-profile failures. Yes, the Broncos won a Super Bowl in the 2015 season, but that's because Peyton Manning had fallen into Elway's lap as a free agent a couple of years prior (the year before Manning, Denver's starting QB was Tim Tebow - enough said). Frankly, those Broncos won that championship in spite of Manning, who also walked away on top.
I mention this because Denver hasn't been back to the playoffs since then largely because Elway hasn't been able to find a quarterback - the one position you'd think he would excel at developing. There's no excuse for a seventh-round pick (Trevor Siemian) being a defending Super Bowl champion's starting QB the next year. Elway took Memphis QB Paxton Lynch at No. 26 overall in the 2016 draft as the team's future, but he looks like a major bust. In fact, Lynch has been so bad that fans cascade boos anytime he has taken the field this preseason. Lynch has been demoted to third string behind free-agent addition Case Keenum and Mr. Irrelevant from the 2017 draft, former Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly. By the time you read this, Lynch might have been released.
Maybe Keenum somehow found something last year with the Vikings as he was terrific in leading Minnesota to the NFC title game. There's also a reason that he has otherwise been a journeyman in his NFL career. Seems unrealistic to think he can lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl. Elway was very interested in Kirk Cousins, but instead had to take the guy the Vikings didn't want because they preferred and got Cousins. Guess what I'm saying is that Coach Vance Joseph might be a good wager as the first one fired this season (he's generally the third-favorite). He barely made it through is first season, an offensively disastrous 5-11 season. Perhaps Elway blew that choice too.
Denver was 1-7 on the road last year, 1-7 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Broncos travel to just one playoff team from 2017 (can't do better than that): Kansas City. The home schedule, though, might be the NFL's toughest. I project a 3-5 road mark. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 23 at Ravens (-5.5): Denver opens with home games vs. Seattle and Oakland. I'd like to tell you what the Broncos are entering this one, but the Seahawks and Raiders are both mysteries. Sure, 2-0 is possible but so is 0-2. Probably will be 1-1. This could easily be one of the ugliest offensive games of the season, but at least Denver won't have to deal with top Ravens CB Jimmy Smith as he's suspended the first four games. Key trend: Broncos 5-3-2 ATS in past 10 at AFC North foes.
Oct. 7 at Jets (+1.5): Short week for the Broncos off hosting Kansas City on Monday in Week 4. I promise you that if the Jets had passed on Sam Darnold at No. 3 and he was available at No. 5 for Denver that the Broncos would have taken him over defensive end Bradley Chubb, although Chubb is going to be a very good player. The Broncos have won three of their last four road games against the Jets. Key trend: Broncos 3-7 ATS in past 10 at AFC East foes.
Oct. 18 at Cardinals (+1.5): Thursday night, with the Broncos hosting the high-powered Rams on Sunday in Week 6. Denver also played in the desert to close the preseason but hasn't played a regular-season game there since 2010. The Broncos are 8-1-1 all-time in this regular-season series. Key trend: Broncos 4-6 ATS in past 10 as road favorite of 2 points or fewer.
Oct. 28 at Chiefs (-4.5): Theoretically, the Broncos could face back-to-back rookie QBs in Arizona's Josh Rosen and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes - OK, Mahomes isn't a rookie but played only one game last year. Denver lost 29-19 in K.C. in Week 8 last year on a Monday. Siemian threw three interceptions and Denver turned it over five times overall. Key trend: Broncos 1-7 ATS as at least a 4-point road dog in series.
Nov. 18 at Chargers (-4.5): Denver off its bye week. The Broncos' 21-0 loss at the Chargers last year was historic because it was the first time Denver had been shut out since 1992 and was the Chargers' first home win as an L.A. team since 1960. Denver had three turnovers. Key trend: Broncos 3-4 ATS as at least a 4-point road dog in series.
Dec. 2 at Bengals (+1): The Broncos won in their last trip to Paul Brown Stadium in 2016, 29-17. But Denver lost at home to visiting Cincinnati last November, 20-17. It was Cincinnati's first win there since 1975. Brock Osweiler was Denver's QB and was typically bad. Key trend: Broncos 5-4 ATS in Cincinnati.
Dec. 9 at 49ers (-4.5): You put Jimmy Garoppolo on the Broncos and they are a Super Bowl contender. It's Denver's first regular-season game against the 49ers in California since 2002 as San Francisco was the home team against the Broncos in London in 2010. Key trend: Broncos 7-3 ATS in past 10 at NFC West foes.
Dec. 24 at Raiders (-4): Monday night. Lynch's best chance to grab ahold of Denver's starting job was in Week 12 last year in Oakland in his first start of the year. Alas, he was 9-for-14 for 41 yards with a pick before leaving with an injury. Lynch didn't start again until the season finale. Key trend: Broncos 6-4 ATS in past 10 as at least a 4-point road dog in series.
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