Broncos vs Redskins Game Preview
The Broncos return to the Nation’s Capital seeking to avenge last year’s Christmas Eve loss to the Redskins. Both teams have new quarterbacks and the Broncos have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Musgrave.
Case Keenum and Alex Smith will be looking to get the Broncos and Redskins back to the playoffs, respectively. With a slew of upgrades in the offseason, both teams will be much improved and get to use this preseason game as a test run at each other’s expense.
The Broncos’ Super Bowl victory was just three seasons ago but it feels much longer. The team faced their worst record since 2010 and had a losing season for only the second time in a decade. They made big changes in the offseason beginning with switching OC’s and swapping quarterbacks.
Keenum had a Cinderella run with Minnesota last season but he’ll be hard-pressed to repeat with the Broncos who, despite offseason improvements, will struggle in the AFC’s toughest division.
The Redskins also made a change at centre by letting Cousins sign with the Vikings as they traded for Kansas City’s Alex Smith. The three-time Pro Bowler is a complete opposite to his predecessor. Smith is more methodical and will manage the offence as opposed to Cousins’s gung-ho style.
The Skins also added more weapons on offence and will be hoping for a healthier 2018. If it all pans out, they are a solid sleeper team and are right behind the Eagles in the division.
It’s difficult to ignore just how much better the Broncos’ defence is even when considering their second team. But the Redskins just have a better team overall and the better backup quarterback in Colt McCoy. They snatch another victory here.
Broncos vs Redskins Head-to-Head Records
It’s all even as the Broncos and Redskins are 7-7 all-time in their rivalry. Washington opened the series with two straight victories beginning in 1970. Then the Broncos countered and won the next two. The Redskins would laugh the loudest when they would destroy the John Elway-led Broncos 42-10 during Super Bowl XXII.
From there, the two teams would literally alternate wins and losses save for 1995 and 1998 where Denver would win two consecutive games. And unlike most rivalries, most of their meetings have resulted in a blowout. Four of their last six meetings were decided by double-digits including a 45-21 shellacking of the Redskins in 2013.
The two teams have a rich history and have combined for 13 Super Bowl appearances and five Lombardi trophies. Denver has remained more relevant in recent seasons most recently winning a Super Bowl not too long ago as the Redskins have yet to consistently make the playoffs.
Both teams are undergoing changes to their offences and are attempting to make a comeback season. It’ll be easier said than done as they play in competitive divisions but any future meetings between the two could go either way as four years is a lot of time for changes.
Denver Broncos Recent History
The Broncos are one of only a few franchises that have consistently remained competitive in the last 40 years. While it took the franchise 17 years to finally crack the playoffs, they have fielded playoff-calibre teams in each subsequent decade.
Denver has also been to a Super Bowl in three of the last four decades. They went 0-4 in their first four tries but eventually broke through winning back-to-back chips in the late ’90s. Under this Mike Shanahan era, the Broncos only had two losing seasons in a dozen years.
After a decline and a brief flirtation with college superstar Tim Tebow, Denver would build one of the most dominant defences along with signing five-time MVP Peyton Manning. They would make two more Super Bowl trips and win their latest one in 2015 but have yet to return to the playoffs since.
Washington Redskins Recent History
The Nation’s Capital hasn’t had much to cheer for in recent seasons although things are still not as bleak as they were post-World War II. The Capitals won two NFL Championships pre-Super Bowl era but had the longest playoff drought in NFL history at 25 seasons from 1946 to 1971.
They went from worst to first and were one of the premier teams in the league for a decade winning three Super Bowl titles in four appearances from 1982 to 1991 led by head coach Joe Gibbs. Things would return to mediocrity following Gibbs’s exit in ’92 and the ‘Skins would only make a total of five playoff appearances in 25 seasons.
Currently, Washington has second-longest Conference Championship drought at 26 seasons behind only the Bengals. While they aren’t a bad team, they are a far cry from their dynasty.
Denver Broncos Outlook
The Broncos still have one of the NFL’s best defences despite losing cornerback Aqib Talib. The “No Fly Zone” is still solid and supported by a fearsome pass rush that just got scarier. Linebackers Von Miller and Shane Ray will now also have first-round pick Bradley Chubb, the consensus best defender in the draft.
Their defensive line is a bit patchy but it shouldn’t be as big of an issue compared to the offence. The Broncos finished 27th in points scored in 2017 and that’s due to playing with no decent quarterback. Keenum looks to fix this issue providing his season in Minnesota wasn’t a fluke.
The team also lost both their running backs in the offseason. Neither Devontae Booker or this year’s third-round pick Royce Freeman is a sure thing and their receivers need a bounce-back season. Denver’s defence will keep them in the mix but it may not be enough playing in the AFC’s toughest division.
Washington Redskins Outlook
Smith wasn’t the only big acquisition the Redskins made. While he adds the stability in the passing game, Washington took a chance on controversial running back Derrius Guice from LSU. Considered the second-best RB prospect, Guice’s main concern is his character. If he can get his head straight, he’ll revitalize the running game.
On defence, Washington made some switches letting several of their front-seven walk while drafting Da’Ron Payne at nose tackle and adding Troy Apke (S) and Adonis Alexander (CB) to the secondary. The defensive line remains their strength on defence and the o-line is solid as well.
Washington was set back by many injuries in 2017. They are just two seasons removed from their division-winning 2015 and their record has been relatively consistent. With their upgrades and better health, they could be a contender.
It’s all defence for this game. Not only do both teams boast two of the best units, but they will go up against two new quarterbacks still making adjustments. It could be a gruelling game for both Keenum and Smith as they will get picked apart by the teams’ talented defenders.
Keenum has a slight edge over Smith in terms of his mobility. He’ll need his legs as the Redskins’ upgraded a front-seven that tied for seventh in sacks in 2017. Smith is more of a traditional pocket passer and will be under siege for most of the game.
The difference-maker will be the Redskins’ second offensive unit, particularly with the quarterbacks. Colt McCoy is one of the best backups in the NFL and could even outshine Smith in this game whereas Paxton Lynch isn’t even guaranteed to make the roster for the Broncos.
In a game that will be dominated by the defence, the scoring will be low and things can get ugly. But give the Redskins the benefit of the doubt as they pull off a close one thanks to their second team.