Can Lock lead the Broncos back to the playoffs in 2021?

Broncos vs. Dolphins opening line
Dec 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) passes the ball in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos head into the 2021 NFL season with some of the best odds to win the Super Bowl, according to the oddsmakers in Vegas. However, we can’t get too excited, as much of this season will be determined by who the Broncos start at quarterback.

We’re now less than 20 days away from the Broncos first preseason game, and there are still three players we could see starting at quarterback for Denver when the time comes: Aaron Rodgers, Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

We’ve already discussed what a season with Aaron Rodgers would look like, as well as what would happen if the Broncos started Bridgewater for all 17 games, so now let’s take a look at what Lock could do with the starting job.

Division Rivals

Lock ended the 2020 season with a disastrous 1-5 record against his AFC West rivals.  

Three of those losses were decided by one score or less. To keep up in the division, Lock will have to decrease his 2020 turnover count and be more accurate with his deep passes. The offensive weapons on the roster leave him with no excuses to fail.

Most of the AFC West games were played with an injury-ridden Broncos defense.  This year, the defensive depth chart is the strongest it’s been since the 2015 No Fly Zone squad. They’ll be able to bail Lock when needed, giving him a much wider margin of error. 

With improved quarterback play, Lock will reverse the close losses he had against the Chargers and Raiders when they come to Denver.  

On the road, he will beat the weaker Raiders but will be defeated by both the Chargers and the Chiefs.

Record Prediction: 3-3

Home

Considering the Broncos’ 2021 home slate, Lock is in the perfect circumstance to demonstrate the level of play fans have longed to see from him.  

With an elite defense behind him, the Lions, Jets, Eagles, and Bengals games should all be easy wins. All four teams are projected to be in the bottom tier of the league offensively. All Lock will have to do is play smart and simple.

However, Lock will not be able to keep up with Lamar Jackson’s high-speed offense when he faces the Ravens. 

The game against the Washington Football Team will be a close one.  Unfortunately, it will be a defensive battle that will be decided Ryan Fitzpatrick being the better quarterback. 

Record Prediction: 4-2

Away

The Broncos’ 2021 away opponents will provide stiffer competition than the teams Denver will face at Mile High.

Lock will be flying high when he starts 2-0 after meeting a struggling Daniel Jones in New York and a rookie Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville. Those games will be blowouts, but things will quickly get tougher.

The Steelers have arguably the best overall defense in the NFL. While Denver’s secondary will keep the game competitive, it won’t be enough for Lock to come away with an upset. 

There is no disputing that Dak Prescott is the superior quarterback between the two.  However, the Broncos’ defense will severely outplay the Cowboys’ and will carry Lock to a shocking win. 

Playing in Thursday night games is a challenge in and of itself; having to play a robust Browns in one will be too big a challenge for Lock, leading to another loss.

Record Prediction: 3-2

Conclusion

Lock is at an immediate disadvantage of playing in one of the strongest divisions in the league.  

The good news is that he will be playing as an upgraded version of himself from last year. The lack of a training camp and preseason proved to be too much of a hurdle to overcome.  This year, he has one of the best rosters in football at his disposal.  Broncos’ General Manager George Paton has done a phenomenal job filling the holes from last year. 

Lock will still make mistakes, but he’ll have more of a margin for error with a defense that can bail him out. Von Miller and Courtland Sutton returning from injury will also have a significant impact on this season. 

Being in the same division as the Chiefs makes it virtually impossible to win the division, but if he plays to the standards that fans expect, the Broncos can squeak out a wildcard spot.

2021 Season Record Prediction: 10-7

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