BRONCOS

Three things to know about Broncos-Seahawks in Week 1

May 17, 2024, 2:19 PM | Updated: 3:25 pm

When Broncos-Seahawks came up as the Week 1 matchup, it would be understandable if groans followed.

It’s not that the Seattle Seahawks are anything special. After consecutive 9-8 seasons following the trade of Russell Wilson to Denver, Pete Carroll — then the NFL’s oldest active head coach — moved on after 14 seasons, including a run of 11 winning seasons in his last 12 on the job. Carroll’s tenure was an undeniable success, but it was time.

But there is the unknown of facing a team with a new head coach. And Seattle’s new sideline boss, Mike Macdonald, will likely be keen to make an impact on a club that lost its defensive identity the last two seasons, falling to the NFL’s bottom 10 in total defense and scoring defense in 2022 and 2023 for the first time since 2010, Carroll’s first season with Seattle.

Macdonald and general manager John Schneider reset Seattle’s safety corps and used their first-round pick on Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy. Whether these changes manifest in an immediate turnaround is to be seen. But they’ll want to make an impression — and if the Broncos start Bo Nix in Week 1, look for Macdonald to find everything in his arsenal to try and confuse the rookie quarterback while also establishing a tone for his stewardship.

1. LAST YEAR ASIDE, SEATTLE IS USUALLY ON-POINT WHEN OPENING AT HOME

A Week 1 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams snapped an 8-game winning streak for the Seahawks when they played their season-opening game at what is now known as Lumen Field.

Nevertheless, Seattle remains 8-1 in Week 1 home openers since 2000, which is the NFL’s best 21st-century record in that scenario. (The Broncos are third-best in that span, going 10-3 in Week 1 home games, all of which took place at what is now known as Empower Field at Mile High. However, like the Seahawks, the Broncos have hit a recent spot of bother in that scenario, losing two-straight Week 1 home games, in 2020 and 2023.)

Seattle’s home dominance to start the season represents a complete reversal from their Kingdome years. When the Seahawks opened the season at home in that since-demolished edifice, they were 2-10.

Meanwhile, the Broncos are 5-6 since 2000 when opening on the road; this is 17th-best in the league in that span, tied with the New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton’s teams are 1-5 when opening on the road, and that lone win came in his first game as an NFL head coach.

Broncos-Seahawks

2. AND IF BO NIX MAKES THE START …

He will become the first Broncos rookie quarterback to start the season opener in 41 years, since John Elway in 1983. Denver won that game at Pittsburgh, 14-10, although Elway famously struggled that day and a week later in a narrow win in Baltimore.

Overall, the Broncos are 5-5 when they have a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start — 5-6 if you include the Kendall Hinton Game of 2020, when Hinton did not take the first snap but was the primary quarterback on an emergency basis in what would be a 31-3 loss to the Saints.

When counting quarterback in their second year and beyond, the Broncos are 10-16 overall for passers in non-strike/non-emergency-QB games making their first career starts. But Denver is 7-5 at home in this scenario compared with 3-11 on the road.

3. THE NEW-COACH FACTOR IN BRONCOS-SEAHAWKS

This could be relevant, and not just because Macdonald might throw all of his tactical prowess at the Broncos, whether Nix starts or not.

Denver is 2-6 all-time in season-opening road games against teams with newly-hired head coaches — but one of those wins came in 1960, when the Broncos were a charter member of the American Football League and everyone was new.

Since then, the Broncos have lost six out of seven. Their only win in that scenario came 21 years ago, when the Broncos throttled the Cincinnati Bengals in Marvin Lewis’ first game as their head coach.

At home, Denver’s ledger is considerably better. A 2017 season-opening win over the Chargers and recently-hired head coach Anthony Lynn improved the Broncos to 6-0 when opening a season against a team with a new head coach.

But Seattle and the raucous Lumen Field will present a challenge, whether Nix starts or holds a clipboard.

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