Five short years ago, the Denver Broncos were on top of the world. They had just won the Super Bowl by defeating the Carolina Panthers 24-10. It marked the fourth and final year with Peyton Manning under center. During that epic stretch from 2012-2015, Denver went an absurd 50-14 (.781) during the regular season.
Unfortunately, it has been all downhill at Mile High since Peyton exited stage left. The Broncos are on their third coach in four years (Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph and now Vic Fangio), and the quarterback position has been a revolving door of failures and disappointments. Since 2015, the Broncos have gone a dismal 27-37 (.422).
Despite posting a losing 7-9 record last season, there was finally reason for optimism in Denver. Rookie second-round pick Drew Lock of Missouri took over and led the Broncos to a 4-1 record down the stretch. John Elway may have finally found his quarterback.
The Broncos have dedicated the offseason to building around Lock and giving him more weapons. Denver signed former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and then drafted Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the first round, and Penn State slot receiver KJ Hamler in the second round. Between star wideout Courtland Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler, tight end Noah Fant, Gordon and running back Philip Lindsay, Denver's offense looks impressive on paper.
Denver also acquired cornerback A.J. Bouye from the Jaguars. The Broncos hope to have star linebacker Bradley Chubb return from a torn ACL suffered in Week 4 last season.
So what can bettors expect from the Broncos in Lock's sophomore campaign?
Denver's win total is 7.5 across the market. What's interesting is that the 7.5 is even -110 juice on both sides at DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet. This is somewhat rare. Nearly every NFL win total has a market consensus one way or the other in terms of juice. This likely means that oddsmakers have set a perfect line for Denver and taken dead-even action on both sides. In other words, smart money is torn.
If we're looking for a small clue, there is one book hanging juice liability. Circa Sports is the lone outlier, showing 7.5 with -120 over juice (under 100). Reading between the lines, Circa has taken in some sharp action on Denver going 8-8 or better.
The Broncos won't get any help in terms of the schedule. Their 2020 opponents went a combined 131-125 (.512) last season, which gives Denver the 12th-hardest schedule overall.
Here is the full Broncos schedule
Week 1: vs Titans
Week 2: at Steelers
Week 3: vs Bucs
Week 4: at Jets
Week 5: at Patriots
Week 6: vs Dolphins
Week 7: vs Chiefs
Week 8: Bye
Week 9: at Falcons
Week 10: at Raiders
Week 11: vs Chargers
Week 12: vs Saints
Week 13: at Chiefs
Week 14: at Panthers
Week 15: vs Bills
Week 16: at Chargers
Week 17: vs Raiders
The Broncos aren't expected to make the playoffs. Denver is a -250 favorite to miss the postseason at DraftKings and a 200 underdog to make the postseason.
Denver is tied with the Chargers at 900 to win the AFC West. The Chiefs are a heavy -455 favorite to win the division. The Raiders are 1100.
The Broncos are 2200 to win the AFC and 5000 to win the Super Bowl.
In terms of player props, Lock's over/under passing yards is set at 3,450.5 and passing touchdowns 21.5. In five games last season Lock threw for 1,020 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Sutton's over/under receiving yards is 1,100.5. Sutton hauled in 1,112 receiving yards in 2019.
Jeudy's over/under receiving yards is set at 750.5.
Gordon's over/under rushing yards is 775.5. Last season, Gordon rushed for 612 yards in 12 games with the Chargers.