NFL.com released an article a few days ago titled "2023 NFL Season: Ranking all eight candidates to go from worst to first in division races" by Kevin Patra. The Denver Broncos, obviously are one of those eight teams after a 5-12 win-loss record, finishing last in the AFC West.
The eight-worst teams, in terms on wins last season were:
- AFC North: Cleveland Browns
- AFC South: Houston Texans
- AFC East: New York Jets
- AFC West: Denver Broncos
- NFC North: Chicago Bears
- NFC South: Atlanta Falcons
- NFC East: Washington Commanders
- NFC West: Arizona Cardinals
The Kevin Patra article has the Denver Broncos at number five out of eight on better chances to go from the worst record in the division to the best, behind the New York Jets (1), Atlanta Falcons (2), Cleveland Browns (3), and the Chicago Bears (4).
Regarding the Broncos, Patra wrote:
"Sean Payton's arrival immediately elevates Denver's chances to compete. There is a lot to like on this roster. The biggest question is whether Payton's magic will coax Russell Wilson back to his Pro Bowl ways after a disastrous 2022 campaign. But the biggest knock on Denver's chances of going from worst to first is playing in the AFC West, where they'd have to knock off Patrick Mahomes and the back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back division-winning Chiefs."- Kevin Patra - Around the NFL
I think that he has a good point regarding Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but in my opinion, the Denver Broncos should have better chances to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs, than for example the New York Jets to dethrone the Buffalo Bills, or the Cleveland Browns to dethrone the Cincinnati Bengals.
I know that the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl Champions, but despite the Jets trading for Aaron Rodgers, it is a new Playbook for him, and they might start the season with a slow rhythm. For me, the Miami Dolphins are a better team than the Jets, and New York might have a season similar to the one that Denver had in 2022-23. Traded for a big-name quarterback, had a lot of hype before the season, and ended up being one of the worst teams in the league (at least record-wise).
Now regarding the Browns, Deshaun Watson will be a starter since the beginning of the season, and that is a good sign for them, but to win the AFC North is going to be tough. It is probably the toughest division in the NFL, Joe Burrow is playing at an elite level; Lamar Jackson got paid, and got weapons. Do not sleep on Kenny Pickett and the Steelers, either.
I think that among those three, Denver has the better chance to jump from fourth to at least second within their respective division. The Raiders are primed for a downgrade and the Chargers are the Chargers. The Jets need a better record than Buffalo, Miami, and New England, and the Browns need to have a better record than the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers.
Can the Broncos jump from worst to first in the AFC West?