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Woody Paige: Broncos are value-added in 2017, but it might not be enough in talented division

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Posted at 11:23 AM, Sep 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-09 13:23:17-04

DENVER — The Broncos definitely are a value-added team this year.

"Value-added" in business signifies that a company takes a homogenous product that is similar to merchandise offered by competitors and vastly improves it with significant changes.

Think of a potato chip brand with fresh flavors, different packaging, better taste, healthier alternatives and lower costs.

But, will all that marketing sell potato chips?

The Broncos have new coaches and new players and a new offensive scheme, and more depth and more experience and more accountability.

But, will all that additional value result in a Return to Glory?

Yes, the Broncos of 2017 will be superior to the Broncos of 2016.

Problem is, the competition in the AFC West is stronger. The opposing franchises have value-added teams, too.

Look at the Chiefs, for instance.

LOOK at what they did Thursday night in New England. They chewed up the Super Bowl champions, and spit them out like seeds.

The Chiefs already were a playoff team with a 12-4 record, and they value-added running back Kareem Hunt, who set the record for most yardage for a rookie in his inaugural appearance. They shut down GOAT Tom Brady (who played like he was 40), perplexed Bill Belichick, stopped the Patriots on third- and four-and-one, rallied from a halftime-deficit (which never happens in Gillette Stadium) and unleashed blur Tyreek Hill again. And Alex Smith threw the ball downfield, rather than dinking and dunking all night, and was All-World in the NFL opener – out-Bradying Brady.

Someone even suggested afterward that the Chiefs could go undefeated. Give me a break, but give them props.

The Raiders have value-added Marshawn Lynch, last seen two seasons ago being an exceptional running back for the Seahawks. The Raiders tied the Chiefs with a 12-4 record last season (and lost the division title on a tiebreaker) and were only Carr-wrecked in the playoffs because of an injury to Derek Carr. The young, electric Carr is back and now healthy and wealthy. Jack Del Rio, late of the Broncos, has done a magnificent job of turning around the Raiders.

Then, there’s the Chargers, now in Los Angeles instead of San Diego. They won only five games in ’16 and dismissed coach Mike McCoy, who has returned to the Broncos as offensive coordinator.  The Chargers still have Philip Rivers and possess two outstanding outside rushers, and that bandbox soccer stadium they will play in this year will be, in my opinion, a positive switch. The Broncos and the Raiders would go into Qualcomm Stadium with thousands of fans and eliminate the home-field advantage. This season 25,000 Broncos’ loyalties won’t be able to attend the game. Season tickets are sold out. Orange won’t dominate the stadium.

The Chiefs, the Raiders and the Chargers have to be better.  The Chiefs have just proven themselves convincingly. The Raiders are being picked as a Super Bowl team by several "experts," and the Chargers will be a factor in the division.

The predictions on the Broncos are from 6-10 (last in the division) to 11-5 (wild card team).

The Broncos, who were winning five and six division games every year, finished 2-4 last season (losing twice to K.C. and splitting with the other two). This year, at best, the Broncos will end up 3-3 in the AFC West, winning at home and failing on the road.

The Broncos virtually were untouchable at Mile High stadium during the regular season of the Peyton Manning Era. They were touched, and torched, for three defeats last season in Denver.

And this year’s schedule is no bargain in Denver and away. It is, based on last year’s results, among the three toughest in the NFL. Every road game is a serious challenge. Even Buffalo. By Dec. 14, Andrew Luck definitely will be on the field in Indianapolis. In south Florida the Broncos will have to confront Adam Gase and, ye gads, Jay Cutler. Philadelphia and Washington (those dreaded eastern 11 a.m. kickoffs) will not be easy on Sunday morning.

Prevailing in three games in other locales might be a real achievement.

Winning all eight home games will be difficult. The Cowboys, the Giants and those dastardly Patriots – and the three division foes -- will create bold problems for a first-year head coach and a team loaded with first- and second-year players (16, at least).

The Broncos are more value-added, but more victory-challenged this season.

After the opening weekend of the NFL season, I’ll be specific about the Broncos’ forecast in Monday’s column. Tune in.