The 2021 NFL season is just mere days from kicking off and it’s got fans across the country jumping for joy. We finally won’t have a Sunday without football until February. With football comes the interesting team of the Denver Broncos. Many see the Broncos as a low-end tank candidate that is just looking to find their future quarterback in next year’s draft while others see them as a potential playoff contender who could sneak in as a wild card. As you know, my record prediction for the Broncos is officially 9-8 as I had previously said in my schedule breakdown article. However, there is a lot more to dive into as the season gets dangerously close. Who will be Denver’s standout players? Can the rookies make a big impact? Are the Broncos legitimate playoff contenders?
Are The Broncos Legitimate Playoff Contenders?
The Broncos are probably the closest to the playoffs that they have been since their Super Bowl run in 2015. The roster is full of talent, youth, and mass amounts of firepower. The quarterback position is the reason for a bit of drawback but the Broncos overall have an extremely talented roster. ESPN ranked them as the 10th best roster in the league which is definitely saying something. I don’t think it’s the roster that will prevent Denver from a playoff appearance, I think it’s the competition. The Broncos are, in my opinion, a member of the 2nd best division in the league: the AFC West. They have to play the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders twice which will add toughness to an already tough schedule. It’s going to be hard to snag a wild card spot when the Chargers, Raiders, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots, Dolphins, and Colts are all plausible teams to be in that race. However, with the talent and capability of the roster, I think that the Broncos are legitimate playoff contenders.
Broncos Award Predictions
You’re probably tired of me repeatedly saying that the Broncos have a very talented roster. For good measure, I’ll say it again. The Broncos have a very talented roster. With that roster, comes its standouts. The players that the Broncos have only added to the excitement leading up to the season. But which ones will stand out the most? Which ones will have the biggest impact? I’ll answer that for you right now with my Broncos’ 2021 award predictions being listed below:
MVP: FS Justin Simmons
OPOY: OT Garett Bolles
DPOY: OLB Von Miller
OROY: RB Javonte Williams
DROY: CB Patrick Surtain
BPOY: WR Jerry Jeudy
MIP: C Lloyd Cushenberry
COTY: HC Vic Fangio
Let me do a little bit of explaining and give you a bit of my reasoning for some of my choices. First off, we have MVP (Most Valuable Player). For this award, I’m predicting it will be Justin Simmons, one of the top safeties in the league. Last year could be considered a “down year” for him by the standards of his 2019 season. However, I’m assuming that he will bounce back big and become the undebatable best safety in the league. At OPOY (Offensive Player of the Year), I picked offensive tackle Garett Bolles. The standout o-lineman had a breakout season last year transforming from one of the bottom starting offensive tackles into one of the best. It was a special year for him and I believe that he’ll continue it through 2021. Next up is my pick for DPOY, the man himself. It has been 617 days from the time I’m writing this since Von Miller has played in a full game for the Denver Broncos. Quite the stat, am I right? He will make his long-awaited return in Week 1 against the Giants barring any setbacks. But I wouldn’t worry. Setbacks don’t have a hold on him anymore. It’s more about the bounce back which is what I think he’ll have in 2021. Now, we get into the rookies. Denver had one of the better drafts in recent memory despite passing on a potential franchise quarterback, Justin Fields. At my pick for offensive rookie of the year, we have Javonte Williams, the stud out of North Carolina. You all should know that I’ve been high on him even before he declared for the draft. He was my RB2 leading up to the draft and made a strong case of de-throning Najee Harris for the RB1 spot. Although his carries will be limited by the veteran Melvin Gordon, I believe Javonte will have the biggest impact among offensive rookies for the Broncos. On defense, there’s no other choice than 1st-round pick, Patrick Surtain II. Surtain is purely amazing. On film, on the stat sheet, everything about him is elite. A false narrative among football fans is that Surtain was a bad pick. There’s a difference between a bad pick and the wrong pick. In my respective opinion (please don’t hate me), Patrick Surtain was a good pick, just not the best pick. The best pick would’ve been Justin Fields. Yes, I said it and I’m sorry. But less on Fields and more on Surtain. He hit the ground running in Week 1 of the preseason scoring the highest Pro Football Focus grade among cornerbacks. He didn’t allow a single reception that game and also had an interception for a touchdown. Based on what we’ve seen from him in the preseason, training camp, and as a college player at Alabama, I think it’s safe to say that defensive rookie of the year for the Broncos and maybe even the NFL is his spot to lose. At BPOY (Breakout Player of the Year), I have wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who had a scarily good training camp. Opponents are already beginning to fear Jeudy and his skillset. He exceeds at making cuts and burning defenders. His only issue is dropping the ball, which has seemingly been fixed or darn-near heavily improved based on what we’ve seen in training camp. Defenses better watch out because this highlight reel of a football player is ready to make his mark. Finally, for player awards, we have MIP (Most Improved Player). For that award, I’m predicting Lloyd Cushenberry will prevail. He didn’t have the greatest rookie season. That’s been made clear to all fans. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the worst starting center in the league from the 2020 season. However, head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have both outlined the vast improvements that he’s made over the past offseason. Although rookie offensive lineman out of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Quinn Meinerz, could potentially steal some of his playing time, I believe Lloyd Cushenberry will translate his off-season improvements into in-season improvements.