Okay, I'll bite. How are the Trevor Seimian led Denver Broncos going to win Super Bowl 52?
To begin, let's examine the similarities between this year's team, and the 2015 Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50. First, the quarterbacks. The table below compares Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, the Broncos quarterbacks in 2015, to Trevor Siemian, the Broncos current quarterback.
As you can see, Peyton Manning was a shadow of his former self. His 67.9 passer rating and 9 touchdowns were easily the worst of his career. Siemian has fluctuated during his five games so far this year. After throwing 4 touchdowns against Dallas, I was ready to crown him MVP. However, he has descended back to the level of "game manager" in recent games. For the Broncos to win, he needs to take better care of the ball, but the Broncos really don't need him to do much more than that. However, the Dallas game showed that Siemian can definitely get points on the board.
The rushing offense in 2015 was fairly mediocre, averaging 107.4 yards per game and 0.8 touchdowns per game. So far, the rushing attack in 2017 is similar, averaging 123.6 yards per game, and 0.6 touchdowns per game. However, I do believe that the rushing attack will be better by the end of the year, since I like the running backs the Broncos have this year a lot more than I like the running crew of 2015. Also, as it gets colder outside, teams tend to run the ball more, thus increasing the chances for the running backs to improve on those numbers.
Overall, remember that the offense in 2015 only scored 32 touchdowns over the entire year, or 2 touchdowns per game. That put them near the bottom of the league in scoring offense. The 2015 team could win with such low scores due to the juggernaut that they had built on the defensive side of the ball. It doesn't matter if you only score 2 touchdowns a game if your opponent only scores one.
So, on to the defense. Anyone who watched the Broncos in 2015 knows that the defense was the life blood of this team. The Broncos are now known for their shutdown defense, from the "no-fly zone" to the suddenly amazing run defense. Below is another table comparing the rankings of the 2015 defense to this year's defense.
As you can see, there has been little change. A lot of the same guys that helped to win Super Bowl 50 are still here. After allowing teams to rush all over them in 2016, a few great free agent signings has turned the rush defense into a monster. It's not like the Broncos have faced no-name running backs either. That number one in rushing defense comes after facing Melvin Gordon, Zeke Elliott, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch. In other words, don't expect Denver's defensive dominance to go away any time soon. Are there things to improve on? Sure. The defense probably needs to generate more takeaways, and the "no-fly zone" needs to play a little better, but this defense is still fearsome, and can carry this team.
One obstacle on the Broncos' road to the playoffs is a difficult schedule. The loss to the Giants hurts even more when you look at the Broncos next four games; three away games against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Eagles, and then a home game against the Patriots. Ouch. However, if the Broncos can get 2 wins against those 4 teams, they would enter the back half of the year at 5-4. From there, the schedule eases up a lot with home games against the Bengals, Jets, and Chiefs, and away games at the Raiders, Dolphins, Colts and Redskins. I could easily see the Broncos going 10-6 or even 11-5, but they need 2 wins in the next 4 weeks. At this point, I think that we can safely assume the Broncos will be playing for a wild card, since the Chiefs suddenly decided to be the best team in the NFL.
So, let's say the Broncos make the playoffs. Based on the current playoff odds given at FiveThirtyEight the AFC playoffs would be seeded as follows:
- Kansas City Chiefs
- New England Patriots
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Tennessee Titans
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Denver Broncos (By FiveThirtyEight's ranking, this would actually be the Buffalo Bills, but I think they have a more difficult schedule than the Broncos and will falter down the stretch.)
This would mean that Denver's first game would be against the Steelers. I don't know about you, but watching Ben Roethlisberger throw 5 interceptions against the Jaguars makes me think that the Broncos could win this game. It would be a tough, physical game, but that is exactly the type of game that the Broncos are built to win. That would mean that the Broncos second game would come against the Patriots. This would be an extremely interesting game. The Patriots have one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Broncos have one of the best defenses. Meanwhile, the Broncos offense is average and the Patriots defense is horrendous. This would come down to how well the defense could slow down Tom Brady. They've done it before, and I have no doubt that they would be able to do it again.
The AFC Championship would be the Chiefs and the Broncos. I'm not going to lie, I am not planning on the Broncos beating the Chiefs in the regular season. However, this would be the third time these two would play this season. I think the Broncos would be fired up and the Chiefs would be thinking about who they want to sit next to on the way to the Super Bowl. In a surprising upset, the Broncos sneak out of Arrowhead stadium with the win!
Assuming that the team with the best current record in the NFC makes it to the Super Bowl, I think you would have Denver vs. Philadelphia. We'll have a chance to preview this match in a few weeks, and I think Denver's defense proves too much for young Carson Wentz. Von Miller is crowned Super Bowl MVP once more, and the Broncos win Super Bowl 52.
TL;DR—The defense carries a mediocre offense once again and wins the Super Bowl.