Through all of 2022 and most of 2023, the Denver Broncos have been seen as a laughing stock by national media and fans all over the league. The Russell Wilson trade, getting swept by Josh McDaniels, giving up 70 points in a game, losing to Nathaniel Hackett ... the list goes on and on. Over the last year and a half, the Broncos have been the butt of every joke in the book. Throw in a few disastrous performances in primetime over the last few seasons, and you get the current-day Broncos; a team that most people laugh at. All of that could change very soon as Denver prepares to take the field in front of a national audience for two straight weeks.
The Broncos will be in Buffalo for a Week 10 Monday night matchup with the Buffalo Bills, a team that has had its share of struggles through the first half of the season. After that, Denver will be back at home to play the Vikings on Sunday night. Four weeks ago, Broncos fans would have looked at two primetime games on the schedule and shuttered at the thought of a national audience witnessing a disaster. Now, after winning two straight games and beating the Chiefs -- who sit atop the AFC -- this two-game stretch can be looked at in a much more favorable light. It is an opportunity for the Broncos to turn the season around, and earn some respect.
Of the two upcoming contests, the Monday night matchup in Buffalo feels the most daunting. The Bills lost in week 9, but in the Josh Allen era, Buffalo has typically responded well to losses, meaning the Broncos could be the victims of a Bills 'get right' game. The Broncos have only played against Josh Allen twice since he took over in Buffalo, losing both games. Those games were in 2019 and 2020, and both teams are wildly different now.
The Bills have looked generally out of sync in the last few weeks, while the Broncos have found a bit of a rhythm. Defensively, the Broncos have played like a top five unit over its last three games, so there is certainly a scenario where Denver shuts down the Bills much like they did to Kansas City in week eight.
The Broncos may not win in Buffalo on Monday night, but a solid performance in a competitive game would still be a promising sign for Denver and would help shake the negative stigma that has attached itself to the team in the last few seasons. If the Broncos win, it would be yet another milestone victory that would change the entire outlook of the season.
After Buffalo, Denver will have a much more winnable game, at least on paper. The Broncos will host the Vikings on Sunday night in Week 11. Minnesota will be without quarterback Kirk Cousins and star wideout Justin Jefferson will likely miss the game as well. Joshua Dobbs -- who led the Vikings to a comeback win fresh off of his trade from the Arizona Cardinals -- will likely be Minnesota's starting quarterback for the Sunday night matchup.
The Vikings are no slouch of a team, no matter who is playing for them, games involving Minnesota tend to come down to the wire. If the Broncos can secure a win in week eleven, it would be another respectable win under Denver's belt, and it will have taken place in front of a national audience. A win would also mean the Broncos could be -- at worst -- 4-6 heading into three winnable games against Cleveland, Houston, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Of course, the Broncos could end up losing both games, and everything I've written here could be thrown out the window, but in football, everything is about opportunities. With back-to-back prime-time games, the Broncos have an opportunity to turn the season completely around in front of the entire nation. Denver has a chance to change everything we thought we knew about them. How will they respond?