The Denver Broncos might be the highest-variance team in 2023. They could be a 11-win team, but could also bottom out as well. What are their ceiling and floor records? Right now, this looks like a playoff team. They have a ton of great pieces in place.
They have the coach, offensive line, adequate pass catchers, and what appears to be a solid defense. However, as we all know, the biggest X-factor for the team is none other than Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson was one of the most efficient QBs in the history of the NFL during his first decade in the league as a Seattle Seahawk.
When he arrived in Denver for 2022, all of that seemed to disappear. Wilson played for a defensive coach in Pete Carroll during his time in Seattle. Their offenses were mainly that of being run-first with a ton of passing based on that. Establishing the run to open up the pass is a Football 101 tactic that helped Wilson succeed.
In New Orleans, Sean Payton seemed to have run a totally opposite offense where his units were heavily involved in the passing game. However, the moves that the Broncos made this offseason indicate that they will be a run-first team, perhaps like the Seahawks were when Wilson was there.
Payton is likely going to tailor the offense to the strengths of the quarterback and the offensive line.
The Broncos' ceiling as a football team is fun to think of. This is a team that doesn't have an overly tough schedule, has a bye week in the middle of the season, and isn't facing a total gauntlet of quarterbacks. They'll have a coaching advantage most every single week and fielded one of the league's best defenses in 2022.
The ceiling for this team is competing for a division title. If most goes right; Wilson bounces back, the offensive line is good enough, the run game and pass game are competent and the defense is solid like usual, the Broncos can win 12 games. In this case, they'd probably go 4-2 in the division in 2023, finally beating the Chiefs in one of their matchups.
Sean Payton did see immediate success when he arrived in New Orleans in 2006, leading them to a 10-6 record. He's also never fielded a scoring offense worse than 12th outside of the 2021 season. There is genuine reason to believe that this club can win double-digit games and at least give Kansas City a run for their money in the division.
The ceiling for the Denver Broncos in 2023 is a 12-5 record and a slight division title.
The floor, though, is much different. The Broncos enduring the worst of the worst in 2023 likely looks like Russell Wilson playing so poorly that Payton is either ready to bench him or actually does. We'd likely see Jarrett Stidham taking meaningful snaps for the Broncos and the franchise would be stuck in an awkward situation.
The defense likely performs much worse than we expect. I think departed defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is a significantly better DC than Vance Joseph, who is now the Broncos' DC. The performance of the defense in this "floor" scenario is also attributed to the offense. If the offense is still inefficient because of inconsistent QB play, we'll be seeing the same scenarios that we've seen for the last six years; offense cannot stay on the field and the defense is left playing longer and for more plays than they should.
This would again create the 2017-2022 seasons all over again. I still think the Broncos' floor is around 7 wins. I think Sean Payton's coaching greatness will be able to make up a couple of wins that the Broncos would miss out on if he wasn't the head coach.
The floor for the Denver Broncos would be a 7-10 record.
I personally think Denver ends up with a 10-7 record and a Wild Card berth.