The Denver Broncos will kick off the 2023 season on September 10 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Plenty of excitement is in the thin Colorado air as the Broncos aim to bounce back from such a disappointing campaign in 2022.
Heavy on Broncos will break down a key injury to keep an eye on and other facts to know leading up to the season opener.
Injury Status of Jerry Jeudy Ahead of Raiders Matchup
The main question mark heading into the season opener is the status of receiver Jerry Jeudy. According to Mike Klis of 9NEWS Denver, Jeudy appears to be, “on the doubtful side of questionable,” as of Saturday, September 9.
Denver’s leading receiver from the 2022 campaign avoided injury reserve. NFL rules mandate that a player has to miss at least four games if placed on IR. Head coach Sean Payton issued an update on the Alabama product just days before the Raiders matchup.
“He’s playing well,’’ Payton said on Friday, September 8 via Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette. “He’s doing a good job. We got 11 personnel tags with him in there. Just the change of direction, down-the-field stuff.”
Jeudy’s status will be monitored in the hours leading up to the game. If Jeudy is unable to play, the team announced on September 9 that they will be elevating receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Phillip Dorsett to the active roster. Denver only has four wide receivers on the active roster.
Humphrey was released when the Broncos set their 53-man roster but was then signed to the practice squad. He has ties to Payton after playing under the veteran coach with the New Orleans Saints from 2019-21. The fifth-year player caught 18 passes for 315 yards in 24 career games.
Dorsett has appeared in 92 career games and played sparingly with Wilson on the Seattle Seahawks during the 2021 season. He has caught 151 passes for 2,001 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.
Can Broncos Improve Upon Dismal AFC West Record?
One of the key reasons the Broncos have failed to reach the postseason since the 2015 season is because of their divisional record. Denver is 6-18 against their AFC West opponents in their last 24 divisional games.
The Broncos have notable losing streaks against the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. Against both divisional foes last season, Denver lost all four matchups by a combined 24 points. All of Denver’s games played within the division were decided by 30 points or an average margin of five points.
During the 2022 campaign, the Broncos went 1-5 against the AFC West, with the lone win coming in Week 18 against a playoff-bound Los Angeles Chargers team. Improving in divisional play will determine whether the team can reverse their 5-12 record from last season.
Broncos Historically Dominant in Home Openers
While the Broncos have posted losing seasons every year since 2017, the team has been historically dominant in their first home game of the year.
Over the last 23 years, Denver has posted a remarkable 20-3 record in home openers. In 2022, quarterback Russell Wilson played his first game in the Mile High City with the Broncos sneaking by the Houston Texans, 16-9.
The Broncos have played in some thrilling matchups in those openers. Former linebacker Von Miller amassed forced two fumbles and had three sacks on Wilson, then with the Seahawks, in the 2018 opener. Then, in a rematch of the 2016 Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired to secure a one-point Broncos win to kick off the 2017 NFL season.