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DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 22: Josh Watson #54 and Jerry Jeudy #10 of the Denver Broncos run on to the field before their game against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field At Mile High on November 22, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Denver Broncos expected to end playoff drought in 2021

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are riding into the 2021 season with key players returning from injuries, a flurry of new additions and a potential new quarterback — could it finally be enough to end a five-year playoff drought?

Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr listed the Broncos as one of six losing teams that will make the playoffs this season.

“Why they’ll make the playoffs: I would put a Vic Fangio defense this loaded against any offense in the NFL, even if the Broncos are middling at best on offense,” Orr wrote. “Stylistically, they’ll be a classic defensive-minded coach’s team, which requires ball control on offense and a stout offensive line.”

Orr highlighted three major changes for the Broncos that put them in this position: offseason signings, a quarterback trade and a huge draft pick.

The Broncos signed Ronald Darby early in free agency and added Kyle Fuller after he was released by the Bears, giving Denver even more firepower on defense.

General manager George Paton brought in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to compete against Drew Lock for the starting spot. This move gave Denver (some) peace of mind knowing that Lock will finally have a veteran to learn from and Bridgewater could be a solid starter with all the weapons on offense.

“It would not be surprising to see Bridgewater move to the front of the pack quickly, as he carries the most promise for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in fulfilling something similar to what he had with Case Keenum in Minnesota, for a coach with similar expectations,” Orr wrote.

Overall, the Broncos may have done enough this offseason to propel them into the playoffs, but a lot will have to go right in order for that to happen.

“The Broncos added Javonte Williams in the second round, pairing him with Melvin Gordon at running back,” Orr wrote. “They also drafted D-III star and wilderness afficionado Quinn Meinerz in the third round. Often we’ll credit teams with a stellar draft based on how well they’ve filled perceived needs, and, while it’s a simplistic grading rubric, the Broncos have managed to ace it thus far.”

Could this be the season the Denver Broncos snap their playoff drought?