9. Sean Payton wins NFL Coach of the Year
If Russell Wilson returns to Pro Bowl form, the Broncos double their win total from last year (or better), and the team returns to the playoffs, how are you giving coach of the year to anyone else but Sean Payton?
Payton, who took a year off in 2022, is historically one of the best coaches in NFL history. He averages 11 wins per 17 games. His offenses rarely rank outside the top 10. He turned the New Orleans Saints into a perennial contender and he has certainly done his part to quickly change the vibe in Denver since he arrived.
The proof will be with what he does on the field, of course, but I think there's a certain checklist of things that could happen that would lead to Payton winning Coach of the Year in 2023:
1. Beat the Chiefs at least once
2. Russell Wilson returns to form
3. Make the playoffs
If those things happen, Payton is the Coach of the Year in my book.
10. Broncos find a way to win it all
Since we're talking playoffs, I am a huge believer in this: If you make it to the dance, anything can happen. The Titans in 2019 are an example of that. The 49ers making it to the NFC Championship twice with Jimmy Garoppolo as QB are examples of that. The 2021 Cincinnati Bengals are an example of that. Last year's Jaguars are an example of that.
Heck, the 2015 Denver Broncos are an example of that.
When you get to the playoffs, anything is possible, so if we're projecting the Denver Broncos to be a playoff team in any best-case scenario kind of world, why not? Let's say the team does have a top-10 offense and they also rank in the top 10 of the NFL in sacks. Listen, if those things happen, this team can win in the playoffs, simply put.
The Broncos have a coach who has been there. They have a quarterback who has been there. They simply need to start playing consistent football. I get it, we haven't seen that in Denver for a long time, but we've seen in recent years that it's possible for things to come together quickly for teams under new coaching. Look at last year's Vikings, Jaguars, and Giants (among others).
Perhaps the Denver Broncos can be one of those teams in 2023.