The long wait is finally over. It’s week one of the regular season at last, and the retooled Denver Broncos take on a familiar foe in the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s an intriguing matchup with both teams undergoing some major changes to their offense and defense.
Here are four things to watch for as the Broncos look to maintain their impressive home
Will the Broncos Secondary remain dominant?
This offseason we saw the departure of fan favorite Aqib Talib. The veteran cornerback will be missed both on and off the field. His departure elevates Bradley Roby to the number two corner spot and solidifies Chris Harris’ place as the number one opposed to the 1A and 1B Harris and Talib were operating under.
Roby’s promotion leaves a massive question mark at the third cornerback spot. Having three elite cornerbacks the last several years has been a luxury not afforded to most teams and now the Broncos must work to find a solution.
Offseason addition Tramine Brock is currently listed as the third cornerback on the depth chart but don’t be surprised if this changes throughout the season as fellow veteran Adam Jones pushes for more snaps and the young Isaac Yiadom develops (although he did struggle in the preseason).
Can the Broncos pass rush get back to 2015 form?
The Broncos possess the best OLB group in all of football, it is an embarrassment of riches. The group comprised of three 1st round picks is a major part of this teams identity.
The Broncos defense was put into bad situations all too often last year and even if the offense can simply turn the ball over less this would be a massive win for the defense.
Outside of the OLB group of Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Shaq Barrett, and Shane Ray, the Broncos remain hugely talented on the defensive line.
Derek Wolfe healthier than he has been in several years, Adam Gotsis will be looking to put offseason distractions behind him and build on a promising second year while DeMarcus Walker who played some OLB last year will kick back to his more natural position.
The Philadelphia Eagles proved again last season that the ability to rotate in fresh legs at the pass rushing position is a formula for success and I for one can’t wait to see what variation of Denver’s NASCAR Joe Woods will draw up with the talent on this team.
Will the 2018 rookie class take the Broncos offense to the next level?
This Broncos rookie class has the potential to change the team for years to come.
Royce Freeman is the first rookie running back to start for the team since Terrell Davis. Fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay a Denver native who went undrafted from Colorado showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason and, despite being listed as the third running back on the depth chart, can contribute immediately.
At the wide receiver position, a star is emerging. Second-round pick Courtland Sutton drew rave reviews throughout camp and continued to impress when he saw the field during preseason. Sutton’s ability to go up and get the ball and win contested catches will make him a huge factor both in the red zone and on third down — two areas the Broncos struggled mightily the last two seasons.
Finally, there is DaeSean Hamilton. Whereas Sutton has been compared to Demaryius Thomas, Hamilton’s route running ability is more akin to the strengths of Emmanuel Sanders.
The Broncos have been without a consistent third receiver since the departure of Wes Welker. Not only may they have found a third and fourth receiver, they may have the heirs to the receiving thrones in Denver.
Could the Broncos have the best special teams in the league in 2018?
Punters are people and the Denver Broncos have one hell of a punter. Thanks to Jon Gruden’s systematic dismantling of the Oakland Raiders Marquette King is now a Denver Bronco.
King is one of if not the best punter in the league and his ability to pin defenses within the 10-yard line will allow Denver’s defense and aforementioned pass rush to tee off on quarterbacks at will.
After a shaky start to the 2017 season, the Goochmeister Brandon McManus improved in form as the season went on. Look for him to bounce back for real in a big way in 2018.
Seahawks 16 – 23 Broncos
For even more build up to the big game watch Brandon Perna preview the game:
You can watch the Broncos on NFL Game Pass Europe from 21:25 BST/22:25 CEST.