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Broncos 2023 Win Total Odds, Pick, Prediction | Expert Fades Russell Wilson

Broncos 2023 Win Total Odds, Pick, Prediction | Expert Fades Russell Wilson article feature image

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton made waves a couple weeks ago for comments he made about his predecessor, Nathaniel Hackett.

Payton remarked that Hackett's 4-11 record with the Broncos last year was "one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL." The Broncos ultimately finished 5-12 after interim coach Jerry Rosburg led the team to a 1-1 record over the final two weeks of the season.

The prevailing wisdom is that the Broncos should be much better in 2023 thanks to the coaching change, a rebound for 12th-year quarterback Russell Wilson, as well as some offseason additions, particularly on the offensive line. As a result, Denver's 2023 win total is set at 8.5 wins.

Should we believe in the Broncos' potential improvements, or will they fall short of expectations in Wilson's second year under center in the Mile High City? Let's take a look.

Denver Broncos Win Total Odds, Pick

Last year, the Broncos were the fourth-most unlucky team in the NFL after Week 17, according to our updated NFL Luck Rankings (updated methodology moved them from second to fourth). Naturally, you'd think a team that unlucky should have a rebound year, and statistically speaking, these teams do!

The 2022 Broncos played more like a six-win team, which is still a far cry from the 8.5 win total.

That also took place with a schedule much easier than the one they'll face this year. According to our Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, the Broncos go "from the 10th-easiest schedule last season to the fifth toughest in 2023." That's a significant downgrade, and would put the 2022 version of the Broncos closer to a five-win team against this year's schedule, even with the bad luck removed.

Now, I keep mentioning the 2022 Broncos, because some things have changed.

First and foremost is Sean Payton. He's certainly an upgrade from Nathaniel Hackett in the head coaching department. But Brandon Anderson is skeptical. He ranks the Broncos coaching staff right in the middle of the pack (16th).

While I'm of the opinion that Payton is a significant upgrade, I'm not sure it's enough to make up a 3.5-win gap from what should have been a five-win team against this year's schedule.

So how has this year's team changed in terms of personnel?

Let's start with the draft. While grading the draft is a difficult task, we can rely on a wisdom of the crowd's approach to assess how Denver fared. Unfortunately for them, according to 29 independent evaluations, the Broncos graded out at 28th.

Thankfully for Denver, its offensive line has significantly upgraded. By grabbing RT Mike McGlinchey and LG Ben Powers, the Broncos invested in two players who are coming off career years and should provide extra protection for Russell Wilson.

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Unfortunately, I don't think that'll be enough. The biggest issue here is Wilson.

Years ago, I ran a cluster analysis on NFL quarterbacks to group them into various archetypes. Wilson ended up in what I called the "Daunte Culpepper cluster" — this group of QBs mainly featured excellent rushers who were also good-to-great passers. That description fits Wilson.

The problem: When these quarterbacks fall off, they tend to never recover.

And last year, Wilson fell off a cliff.

Looking at the most elite QBs in this cluster who played at and after age 34, the list is just Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Both struggled around this age-34 threshold and ended up retiring after their age-35 seasons. All the other QBs of this type were either done making significant contributions before their age-34 season, or nowhere near as elite as McNabb, Vick and Wilson.

Wilson just came off his age-34 season, in which he posted career lows in completion percentage, CPOE, QBR and adjusted net yards per attempt, among other categories. And none were particularly close to Wilson's second-worst year in each category.

Set to turn 35 in November, Wilson shouldn't be expected to have a strong bounce back. In fact, over a small sample size during this preseason, Wilson's numbers have been the worst of his exhibition career. Again, small sample size, but it's certainly not a good omen for a significant rebound.

All told, I don't see the offensive line, or Payton, as reason enough to believe in a major turnaround for Wilson. Add in the significant schedule difficulty, and there's plenty of reason to take under 8.5 wins.

SuperBook, where I bet this then tracked in the Action App, is offering this at even money. I'd take this down to -115 because I have the Broncos coming in at under 8.5 wins more than 53.5% of the time, implied by these odds.

Pick: Broncos Under 8.5 Wins (Even | Bet to -115)
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