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Mile High Morning: What is a realistic ceiling for the Broncos in 2020?


The Lead

The Broncos could have a lot of things going for them this season.

As you are probably well aware, the team has an exciting corps of offensive weapons featuring Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton and 15th-overall pick Jerry Jeudy at wide receiver, two running backs with three Pro Bowl selections between them and a young, explosive tight end. Together, they could be the Broncos' best group of receivers and rushers in recent years.

Perhaps the most important piece of the offensive puzzle, quarterback Drew Lock, is coming off an exciting end to his rookie season, and with those receiving threats and a new offense that is expected to produce more big plays, he could be the team's best passer since Peyton Manning retired and make the offense dangerous once again.

Meanwhile, the defense reloaded with a couple trades to acquire Pro Bowlers Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye. With a healthy Bradley Chubb back in the mix and a refocused Von Miller bookending the pass rush, Denver's defense could be a top-five unit.

Everything put together could push the Broncos back into postseason competition.

Could, of course, is the operative word here. A lot of things could go right for the Broncos, not to mention any other team.

But if things indeed do go according to plan in Denver, what might the Broncos' ceiling be?

Tasked with this question, ESPN's Jeff Legwold penciled in a 10-6 record for the Broncos' realistic best-case scenario. The biggest factor in his perspective is how the team performs during the first quarter of the season.

"Sure, Drew Lock is in his first full season as the starting quarterback, and the Broncos have plenty of work to do to set things in the offensive line, but how this season looks overall might hinge on whether Denver does far more in Weeks 1-4 than it did last season," Legwold wrote. "The Broncos started 0-4, scored 16 or fewer points three times in those four games and had zero sacks on defense in the first three games."

That will likely be no easy task; Denver's first four games include a matchup against the 2019 AFC finalist Titans, a game on the road in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger back under center and a duel against the new-look Buccaneers, who have paired up their Pro Bowl receiver tandem with Tom Brady and the recently unretired Rob Gronkowski.

If the Broncos do come out of that stretch even just at .500 and playing competitive football, that should bode well for the rest of their schedule. But make no mistake; the Broncos' schedule is one of the toughest in the NFL this year. Even if the offense makes strides and the defense is an elite bunch, it won't be a cakewalk.

Below the Fold

Brandon McManus, an avid golfer during his free time, is taking on some of his NFL colleagues in a challenge for Golfweek. First up was a driving competition, as the kickers used force-measuring nets to estimate drive distance. It was close, but McManus was a formidable force off the tee.

The Broncos should see an old friend during Week 1. On Wednesday, former Bronco Trevor Siemian, who led the offense as the starting quarterback for much of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, signed with the Titans to back up Ryan Tannehill. Siemian most recently played for the Jets in 2019 but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2.

The Unclassifieds

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