With the Week 18 slate of games around the corner, ESPN's Bill Barnwell looks at the eight eliminated teams most likely to turn things around in 2022.
Of the teams Barnwell has faith in for next season and beyond, including the Browns and Seahawks, the common thread is that they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, with one or two key pieces still needed to turn them from fringe teams to playoff contenders — and that includes the Broncos.
"It's easy to see how much promising talent they have on both sides of the football," Barnwell wrote.
The Broncos come in at No. 3 on Barnwell's list. So far, it appears Denver and General Manager George Paton has put together one of their best draft classes in recent years. First-round pick CB Pat Surtain II has lived up to the hype as a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie, second-round RB Javonte Williams has shined while sharing carries with RB Melvin Gordon III, third-round G/C Quinn Meinerz has flashed on the offensive line, third-round ILB Baron Browning has impressed as a starter following injuries and S Caden Sterns and OLB Jonathon Cooper have both contributed in their first seasons.
"If the Broncos could just get steady quarterback play, they might already be one of the league's best teams," Barnwell wrote. "They were 7-6 with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm before he suffered a serious injury in Week 15 against the Bengals."
The Broncos have looked like contenders in several games this season, including in their win over Dallas. If they can keep their young talent together and fill a hole or two on the roster, they could be primed for postseason runs in 2022 and beyond.
Below the Fold
The Athletic's Lindsay Jones and Ben Standig named the future MVP of each NFL franchise as part of their power rankings ahead of the final week of the 2021 season.
The Broncos' future MVP, according to the Athletic, is Surtain, who almost immediately became a big part of the defense even as a rookie.
"The Broncos found a star in 2021 first-round pick Patrick Surtain II," Jones and Standig wrote.
Surtain earned the nod following an impressive rookie campaign that included 14 passes defensed and four interceptions, including a pick-six.
"It's rare for a cornerback to be so polished as a rookie, but the Broncos can thank Surtain's Alabama football pedigree for that," Jones and Standig wrote. "He made an immediate impact, with four interceptions and surprisingly few rookie mistakes."