Denver Broncos: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The way the Denver Broncos franchise began its history, it might not have been out of the question for fans to wonder if they should ever put down a bet on the Denver Broncos.
Denver came into existence in 1960 with the AFL, and posted the worst record of any AFL franchise before its merger with the NFL in 1970. In ten years, the Broncos posted exactly zero winning seasons, going a combined 39-97-4. Not even legendary Lou Saban, winner of two AFL championships with the Buffalo Bills, could lift Denver out of its misery.
And so no one could’ve predicted the Broncos first trip to the playoffs in 1977. Yes, the Broncos had posted its best record ever in 1976, going 9-5 and finishing second in the AFC West. But head coach John Ralston resigned after the season, and Denver hired veteran coach Red Miller to lead the team. Miller’s fifteen years of NFL coaching experience was limited – he’d been an offensive line coach his entire career.
Yet, despite the shortcomings, Miller beat the Denver Broncos odds. The team won its first AFC West title, knocked off a powerhouse Steelers team that had already won three championships that decade, and beat the hated Raiders to advance to its first Super Bowl ever. A bet on the Denver Broncos to win the game, however, would not pay, as the team lost to Dallas and failed to cover a six-point spread.
That season broke a curse of sorts, and Denver’s football franchise quickly found itself on solid footing. The team had chosen the moniker “Broncos” after a fan poll in 1960, and had actually began play with hideous brown and yellow uniforms, with a uniformed football player riding a bucking bronco as its logo. The team would switch to more palatable orange-and-blue two years later, keeping a version of the bucking bronco as its logo until the AFL-NFL merger, when Denver took the opportunity to do a much-needed rebrand. An orange D with a rising white horse had actually been used on the team’s helmets in 1968, and that would function as Denver’s primary logo until 1996, when it eschewed its outdated graphic for a sleeker, more modern bronco head.
Miller won another division title but never made it back to the Super Bowl, and was replaced after a lackluster 8-8 campaign in 1980 by Dan Reeves. Reeves would stumble in his first two years as head coach, but then, after the strike-shortened season of 1983, he would stumble upon the good fortune that turns franchises around.
In 1983, Denver swooped in and traded its 4th overall pick, a backup QB, and a first rounder in 1984 for the rights to QB John Elway, who quickly agreed to terms. A bet on the Denver Broncos quickly became fashionable. Elway led the team to a 9-7 record in his rookie season and a wildcard loss to Seattle. In 1984 the team went 13-3 and won the AFC West, but were ousted by an unheralded Steelers team. Then, in 1986 and 1987, Denver reached the Super Bowl for the first and second time, with wildly different expectations.
The Denver Broncos odds to win Super Bowl XXI were long – the New York Giants were nine point favorites, and Bill Parcells and co. covered easily, winning 39-20. Super Bowl XXII, however, was a different story. The Denver Broncos odds were installed as 4.5-point favorites, and excitement for a potential first championship was growing. However, Elway threw three interceptions, and Washington blew out the Broncos, 42-10.
Denver would return to the championship game in 1989, this time 13-point underdogs to Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers. A bet on the Denver Broncos to cover would not have paid, however, and the 49ers decimated Denver, 55-10, with Montana throwing a then-Super-Bowl-record five touchdown passes.
Elway played poorly in that game, as well, and fans were left to wonder if he simply wasn’t a big-game quarterback. Reeves would leave after the 1992 season to coach the New York Giants. It would be two years until Denver would rehire its former offensive coordinator, Mike Shanahan, to try and get the team over the hump.
A futures bet on the Denver Broncos would not have been a good idea in Shanahan’s first year, as the team finished 8-8. But it realized that year it had stumbled upon something – 6th-round draft choice RB Terrell Davis. Davis would embark on one of the greatest four-year stretches of any running back in NFL history, before his career would be frustratingly cut short due to injuries.
In 1997, a bet on the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl would pay for the first time. Davis and Elway combined to form the #1 offense in the league, which Denver rode to a 12-4 record and a 31-24 upset of the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, a game in which the Packers were 11-point favorites.
The Denver Broncos odds of repeating were high, and it was again Terrell Davis leading the way. Davis posted one of the greatest rushing seasons in history, running for over 2000 yards and scoring an incredible twenty-three touchdowns. Denver once again reached the Super Bowl, and this time the Denver Broncos odds to win the game were high – they were 7.5-point favorites over former Broncos coach Dan Reeves and the Atlanta Falcons. Elway threw for over 300 yards, Davis ran for over 100, and Denver had won back to back championships, 34-19.
Shanahan would make four more playoff appearances until he left the team in 2008. John Fox would take over the coaching duties in 2011, and while he would never win a title, he quickly molded a fearsome defensive unit that was the calling card of the team for the 2010s. Led by LB Von Miller and CB Champ Bailey, Denver’s would rank in the top-5 for an astonishing five out of six years.
But it was only after Elway – now acting as GM – signed Indianapolis Colts great Peyton Manning that Denver returned to the big game. Denver was thrashed by Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense in Super Bowl XLVIII, but in Gary Kubiak’s first year as head coach, Denver won its third Super Bowl, manhandling Carolina with its defense, 24-10. The Denver Broncos' odds in that game? 5-point underdogs.
Manning retired after that, and the team has since stumbled through several signal-callers. 2019 2nd-round draft pick Drew Lock didn't fare all that well in two years of play, and now Denver will go into 2021 with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter. The defense is expected to be the team's strong suit under head coach Vic Fangio, but Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers will be tough teams to deal with in the AFC West.