Taken as a whole, the Denver Broncos are without a doubt one of the NFL’s greatest-ever franchises – they’re even on a 3-1 SU/ATS run in Super Bowl appearances. Since Peyton Manning ended his career by winning a Lombardi Trophy with Denver, the Broncos have been on a pitiable slide that no better should want any part of…
Is the Denver Broncos’ vaunted homefield advantage disappearing? Perhaps for the time being, they’re not such an obvious bet. From 2016 to ’20 – call it the post-Peyton Manning period – the Broncos went just 27-23 SU/23-24-3 ATS in Denver; to be fair, however, the Broncs were 19-29 SU/23-25 ATS on the road during this era…
The decision of the upstart American Football League to establish a professional football team in Denver in 1960 showed foresight and confidence. The team would be the first in the American Southwest, the first in the entire Mountain Time Zone – and Denver, then ranked 22nd in terms of U.S. cities ranked by population, was still a good three decades-plus away from finally landed its much-coveted MLB team.
Not that the Broncos’ eventual success was always evident: In their 10 years of AFL play, the Broncos never topped a 7-7 record and averaged just under 4 wins per season. The first seven seasons of play post-AFL/NFL merger weren’t so hot, either, with the Broncos peaking in 1976 with a 9-5 record.
And suddenly, in ’77, everything changed. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Red Miller took over the coaching duties, and the much-maligned Craig Morton was brought over in a trade. Despite all the hype and attention the offense was getting, it was the Orange Crush defense of Randy Gradishar, Lyle Alzado, Louis Wright and Bernard Jackson that stomped the league and got the Broncos into their first Super Bowl.
The Broncos’ first-ever AFC championship run of 1977 kicked off a run of success that would run through to Peyton Manning’s retirement following Super Bowl 50, nearly four decades’ worth of deep competitiveness. In 32 of the following 39 season, the team went .500 or better and enjoyed 22 playoff appearances. The Broncos’ cumulative mark in all those playoff games was a respectable 23-19 SU/21-21 ATS.
Despite the trigger of ’77, however, the most important moment in Denver Broncos history occurred in the offseason following the ’82 season: The landing of no. 1 overall 1983 NFL Draft pick, a dude named John Elway. All Elway would do was start at QB for the Broncos for the next 16 years, playing in 234 of a total 255 regular season games in that span on the way to becoming Denver and Colorado’s all-time greatest pro athlete. From 1983 to ‘’96, Elway and the Broncos enjoyed eight playoff runs and three Super Bowl appearances – and admittedly became something of the poster boy for the NFC beatdown so typical in those years’ Super Bowls.
And then, Terrell Davis. After positively stealing the Georgia Bulldog in the sixth round, head coach Mike Shanahan inserted the man into the starting lineup and suddenly the Broncos had something they’d never had before: A bona fide rushing attack. In each the first four years of Davis’s career, Denver was top 3 in running yardage and TDs; and in Davis’s third and fourth campaigns, Denver got its long-awaited title(s). Elway was able to retire from the game recognized as a top-five all-timer rather than the butt of jokes.
The 00s weren’t particularly kind to the Broncos, as the team’s only run of note after Super Bowl XXXIII came in 2005, when Jake “The Snake” Plummer led the Broncs past the would-be threepeater Patriots first in the regular season and then in the divisional, only to finally succumb to, fittingly enough, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
After a few not exactly massively lucrative business ventures, Elway returned to the Broncos in 2011 – as general manager/executive VP. After a season of silliness featuring an 8-8 record and a fluky, erratic playoff path with the immortal Tim Tebow at the helm, Elway got down to business. He immediately wooed Manning, then a free-agent after an unceremonious release from the Colts, to quarterback his team. The Manning-led (though the term became decreasingly descriptive through the run) Broncos made the playoffs in all four of Peyton’s seasons with the team, twice appearing in Super Bowls. And Manning’s Broncos ’Bowls were somewhat similar to those of his boss: His first resulted in a 33-8 blowout by the Seattle Seahawks, but his last was a solid victory allowing him to triumphantly retire.
Following the 2015 season, though, it’s a different story. After Super Bowl 50, the Broncos were ranked 8th on the all-time NFL winning percentage standings board. By the end of the 2021 season (Denver’s sixth consecutive season sitting out the playoffs, unprecedented for the Broncos since ’77), the franchise had fallen to 12th overall. What happened in those six seasons? A quarterback carousel, erosion of a once-great defense and a 39-58 SU/45-50-2 ATS mark.
Can this beloved franchise make a return to greatness? Stay tuned to NFLbets to track the betting on the Denver Broncos!
Do the Denver Broncos have a homefield advantage, as is often purported? The answer is of course “yes and no.” On one hand, the Broncos ran up a record of 107-62 SU in all games played in Denver from 2001 through 2020, or a .633 winning percentage, well better than the expected average of .550. On the other hand, though, the team went just 75-88-5 against the spread (ATS) during the span. NFLbets would have to say back the visitor to Denver in the 21st century…