The Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos are two teams looking to break back into the AFC playoff field after missing out on the postseason in 2018.
While the Bills feel confident that second-year quarterback Josh Allen can continue to develop into the team’s franchise quarterback, in Denver, the Broncos are hoping veteran Joe Flacco can return to form after being benched last year in Baltimore in favor of fellow rookie Lamar Jackson.
The Bills host the Broncos in Week 12 at 1 p.m. Nov. 24 at New Era Field. This starts a critical stretch for Buffalo, which after the Denver game has to play at the Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving), home vs. the Baltimore Ravens, at the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, and home vs. the New York Jets to wrap up the season.
As our opponent previews for the Bills’ foes in 2019 continues, we went to Mile High Report, SB Nation’s Broncos blog for more information on how the Broncos stack up leading into the start of the season.
Notable free-agent additions: Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan, Ja’Wuan James, Theo Riddick.
Over/under: 7 wins—Over. People might be sleeping on the Denver Broncos this year. The offense has marked improvement in play on the offensive line and a dynamic threat out of the backfield in Phillip Lindsay. However, that side of the ball may be determined by the play of Joe Flacco. Is he done or ready for a revival? The sleeping aspect comes on the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos seemed to have added exactly what they needed to return to a Top 5 unit and with reigning Defensive Coordinator of the Year in Vic Fangio leading the way, they might be a pretty scary group. The caveat on the over, is that it probably won’t be by much. While I think this team is easily 4 wins better than the 6-10 team they field last year, the Broncos have the second toughest schedule in the NFL this year and that might cost them a shot at a Wild Card if they do turn the corner in 2019.
Rookie I’m most excited about: Dalton Risner. Offensive line woes have plagued the Broncos dating back even to their Super Bowl 50 season. However, it looks like their rookie second-round pick might just be an elite kind of guard. Negating the inside rush will be critical for Flacco and that offense.
Best position battle heading into camp: Tight end. Right now the depth chart is Jeff Heuerman, Noah Fant, Troy Fumagalli, Jake Butt, and Austin Fort. I think the top two remain where they are. Fant has quite a bit of talent, but he isn’t going to break out in a big way in his rookie season based on what we’ve seen in training camp thus far. Behind them, the guy to keep an eye on is rookie Austin Fort. He has been turning heads in camp as a red zone threat. He is raw, but that’s a name that people might start hearing a lot more a year or two from now. I would even put him on the final 53-man roster ahead of Butt at this point.
Biggest storyline heading into camp: Will the Broncos turn things around? After their first back-to-back losing seasons in over 40 years, patience is thin in the Mile High City. They seemed to have made all of the right moves they could make to get better this year, but they’ll still need to win those close games. The same games they found ways to lose in 2017 and 2018.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into camp: Joe Flacco. This is under-the-radar only because any casual observer on the outside probably snickers some joke about him being elite. The fact is, Flacco is actually in his prime as a quarterback and is now working with better offensive talent and a system he flourished under when Gary Kubiak was offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens. How he goes, so will the Broncos.
Thanks to Mile High Report for their thoughts on Denver.