Few NFL teams have had a higher turnover than the Denver Broncos, who look to get their new team to work in their Preseason Week 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday afternoon. Denver enters as the 2½-point sportsbook favorite or -140 on the money line. The host Vikings are +120 .
Denver will roll with quarterback Drew Luck to start this game, though third-stringer Brett Rypien will likely be the one closing the game. New acquisition Teddy Bridgewater may not play, but he is scheduled to start next week. The Broncos will, however, give their other new players plenty of reps and their strong defense is why they should win.
Broncos: New and Improved
It isn’t a stretch to think this Broncos team has shades of the 2015 Super Bowl team in it. Linebacker Von Miller (who could sit this game out) may be the only notable player left from that team, but a healthy defense will help the Broncos win a lot of games.
Denver will get to showcase a pair of rookies in cornerback Patrick Surtain II and safety Caden Sterns in the secondary along with new acquisitions in cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. They further bolster the already formidable unit.
On offense, Denver drafted running back Javonte Williams to take over for Phillip Lindsay. Quinn Meinerz will also see some playing at either center or right guard and will push for a starting role. As for Lock and Rypien, all they have to do is manage the game.
VIkings: Winning the Trenches
The battle is won in the trenches is an old saying in football and Minnesota seems to take this credo to heart as it made sizable upgrades to its defensive line. The team drafted edge rusher Patrick Jones II and middle linebacker Chazz Surratt while also signing several other veterans to provide depth.
Nice play by DE Patrick Jones II pic.twitter.com/DxTwLRfmk6
— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) August 7, 2021
The Vikings’ defense got smacked by injuries last season, resulting in a bottom-three finish – a far cry from its previous five seasons where it finished in the top five in points allowed. But it also gave the offense time to shine as it finished fourth in yards gained.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins remains the team’s starter, though backups Jake Browning and Nate Stanley will likely play most of this game. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw and right guard Wyatt Davis, a pair of rookies, also improve the offensive line.
Pick: Old-School Football
Yes, we will witness some old-school football here. That’s why the NFL odds have a low total of 34½ points considering the main quarterbacks at play are Lock and Browning. But it’s also predicated on each teams’ strong defensive lines.
Both the Vikings and Broncos will be fearsome at the front and will keep pressuring the quarterbacks while stifling the running game. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook may not see many snaps while the Broncos have unproven players in the backfield.
Then there’s also the secondary. The Vikings added cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Xavier Woods while the Broncos have arguably the best unit in the NFL. It will be hard to move the chains for either team here, so we may see a single-digit final score for one team, if not both.
Pick: Under 34½ points
Picking Sides: Vikings Defending Home
The Broncos get the edge overall here, especially on defense. The team can make the playoffs and even finish second in the AFC West. But the Vikings may just pull off this upset as their offense is a little bit better and will have a little bit more chemistry.