2018 Denver Broncos game-by-game predictions

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have spent the offseason trying to dig out from last season's 5-11 finish, their worst showing since 2010 -- the year before John Elway returned to the team as the top football decision-maker. They've signed Case Keenum at quarterback and believe he's just what they need.

But the roster, at least pre-draft, still looks too thin in spots to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC West. History says the Broncos should at least get back to .500 this time around. After all, they haven't had back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET

This is the Seahawks' first trip to Denver since 2010. They have largely dismantled the Legion of Boom defense, having released Richard Sherman, traded Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas is a no-show for the early portion of the team's voluntary offseason workouts. The team is also regrouping some on offense, with three of their most productive pass-catchers having departed in free agency. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16 vs. Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Raiders created some of the biggest headlines of the offseason when they signed coach Jon Gruden to a 10-year deal to resurrect some swagger. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was their most significant signing in free agency -- he'll turn 33 in May -- but Gruden's quest for "grinders" leaves largely the same kind of roster the Broncos faced last season. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23 at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET

The Ravens have given quarterback Joe Flacco some new targets in Michael Crabtree and John Brown, and some in the league believe the Ravens might have interest in adding Dez Bryant as well. It will be a test for the Broncos' revamped secondary, with Bradley Roby in an increased role and Tramaine Brock having been signed. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Monday, Oct. 1 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 ET

Their playoff spot assured, the Chiefs sat most of their regulars last New Year's Eve in Denver and still gave the Broncos their 11th loss of the season. Patrick Mahomes got his first start at quarterback in that game and is now Andy Reid's permanent starting quarterback. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday. Oct. 7 at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET

The Jets are on the hunt for the quarterback of their future in this draft, but at the moment they're still a rebuilding team trying to rise from the ground up with a draft-centric approach. The Broncos have won three of their last four road games against the Jets. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET

Just start with former Broncos head coach/assistant Wade Phillips calling the defensive plays for the Rams to go with former Broncos captain Aqib Talib at one of the starting cornerback spots after being traded last month. The Rams were the big-splash team this offseason, having added Talib, Ndamukong Suh and Brandin Cooks in recent weeks. Record: 3-3

Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 18 at Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m. ET

They have a new coach in Steve Wilks, a new quarterback in Sam Bradford and one of the team's foundation players -- wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald -- back for his 15th season. The Cardinals have been a frequent preseason opponent for the Broncos and are again this year, but the Broncos haven't played a regular-season game in Arizona since 2010, or just after Josh McDaniels had been fired as head coach. Record: 4-3

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28 at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET

Last season's trip to Arrowhead was the real beginning of the spinning carousel that became the Broncos' quarterback depth chart. Trevor Siemian threw three interceptions in the Broncos' loss that night. Thus began the season of change, as the Broncos went through three starters behind center -- twice -- in the games that followed. Record: 4-4

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4 vs. Houston Texans, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Broncos likely get a glimpse at one of the best young combinations in the league in quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has already said he believes the two can be the "best duo in the NFL." The Texans' last win in Denver was in 2012, when Gary Kubiak was Houston's coach. Record: 5-4

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

The Broncos trip to the Chargers' temporary soccer stadium home in '17 turned out to be an ugly -- yet historical -- one, as Denver was shut out for the first time since 1992. It was the Chargers' first win in their return to the Los Angeles area since 1960. Record: 5-5

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.

This will likely be the best group of receivers the Broncos face in Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant. If the Steelers find a way to clean up the offseason drama with RB Le'Veon Bell, the Broncos' defense gets the sternest of tests. The Broncos have won three of the last four meetings with the Steelers, including two playoff wins. Record: 5-6

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2 at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has promised he will rebound from a "crummy" 2017 season. The team has spent plenty of time on an overhaul of the offense, as Bill Lazor -- who was moved into a play-calling role after Ken Zampese was fired two games into '17 -- gets an offseason to put in his playbook. The Broncos won in their last trip to Paul Brown Stadium in 2016. Record: 6-6

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9 at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Broncos get their first look at quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo -- the 49ers' $137 million man -- leading a team that also added Richard Sherman as former Broncos safety John Lynch works through his second year as the 49ers' general manager. This is the Broncos' first regular-season game against the 49ers in California since 2002 -- the 49ers were the "home" team against the Broncos in London in 2010. Record: 6-7

Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 15 vs. Cleveland Browns, 4:30 p.m. ET

The Broncos don't really know who two of the biggest names they will face in this one are at the moment, as the Browns have the Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks in the draft. But Cleveland was aggressive in the offseason after a combined 1-31 record over the past two seasons, adding wide receiver Jarvis Landry and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Record: 7-7

Week 16: Monday, Dec. 24 at Oakland Raiders, 8:15 p.m. ET

Last season's trip to Oakland on Nov. 26 was supposed to be the start of Paxton Lynch's stretch run to show he could be an option for 2018. But he tossed a red zone interception, injured his ankle and didn't start again until the season finale. Record: 8-7

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Chargers feel they are ready to be "the" defense in the division, a title the Broncos have held for much of the past five or so seasons. The Chargers look stout in front of quarterback Philip Rivers, having added center Mike Pouncey. The offense will again hinge on what Rivers has left in the tank. Record: 8-8