The Denver Broncos have the potential to be better than advertised. People within the organization believe the media is underestimating the team. Associated Press writer Arnie Stapleton, who covers the Broncos from Denver, agrees that there a few key reasons behind these thoughts.

“People at the Broncos building have a much higher expectation of themselves than the people on the outside. They have that kind of quiet confidence that you’ve seen in years past,” Stapleton said ahead of Monday night’s season opener between the Broncos and Chargers.

Stapleton joined Gil Whiteley and Mark Jackson on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 and explained why he too believes the team is capable of surpassing expectations. He believes one of the keys is rookie left tackle Garett Bolles.

“I think Garett has to show up and kind of tame that aggression that led to flags in the preseason,” Stapleton said. “But more than that, just kind of hold his ground and not let Trevor Siemian get hit. I think if he stands up well for himself, then that offensive line will have a good showing.”

Bolles was the 20th overall draft pick this year, selected by the Broncos to shore up an offensive line that gave up 40 sacks and only averaged 92.8 rushing yards per game last season.

“The good thing for Garett is he’s been tutored by the best-of-the-best. So now when he faces these great edge rushers, they’re not as good as Von [Miller], and so he’s hoping to be able to take enough of that knowledge and put it to use,” Stapleton said.

Along with the addition of Bolles, Stapleton believes that the Broncos defense will be one of the biggest keys to having a successful season.

“The strength of this team is defense, and defense travels,” Stapleton told Whiteley and Jackson. “It’s not like when you have a great offense and you get on the road and you get knocked off-kilter with the noise. With defense, if that’s your strength, look at Baltimore over the years, Pittsburgh, some of these teams that traditionally have strong defenses. It doesn’t matter where they’re playing.”

The Broncos had the fourth-ranked overall defense in 2016, giving up only 316.1 yards per game, 185.8 passing yards per game (first), 130.3 rushing yards per game (28th) and 18.6 points per game (fourth).

“With Denver, yeah, they’re going to go into some tough places and they have some tough schedules, but it doesn’t bother this group at all to go on the road for three weeks out of four or whatever it’s going to be,” Stapleton said.

Despite going 9-7 last year, the team still holds itself to high expectations.

“They think their defense is better than it was last year, and they think their offense is better than it was last year,” Stapleton said.

The Broncos look to start their season off in the right direction against the Los Angeles Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Monday night at 8:20 p.m.

Listen to the full interview with Arnie Stapleton, including his thoughts on how analysts and the media base their preseason predictions, in the podcast below.

Sorry – this audio content is no longer available.

Catch Gil Whiteley and Mark Jackson every weekday from 11a-12p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.